My life in Barcelona is about the simple things.
It’s about ham that glows like gold and melts like butter.
It’s about street gangs of 80-something-year-olds who hang out on public benches all day smoking cigars and giving people dirty looks. And 30-something-year-olds who still live with their parents.
It’s spending days and nights at the beach with children shooting rockets at each other… and at you.
It’s about nightclubs that don’t open until 1am.
It’s being amazed by the vibrant architecture on a daily basis.
It’s about waiters who don’t give a damn how long you’ve been waiting.
Waiters who expect you to know exactly what you want without seeing a menu.
It’s about finding amazingly attentive waiters who greet you with a smile and a menu, promptly take your order, but forget to bring half of what you ordered anyway.
It’s about menus that advertise “brave potatoes” and “untidy eggs”.
It’s about constantly being amazed by how good Catalan wine is.
It’s about nights that begin at whatever time you wake from your siesta.
Saturdays that don’t stop before Sunday starts.
Palm trees and the Mediterranean sea breeze. Sun-blazed beaches.
It’s about the Chinese bazaar shopkeepers who pretend they’re not following you around to check you aren’t stealing.
Buying 12-packs of beer at the supermarket for €4.44 and world-class wine for less than a tenner.
It’s the infallible self-belief possessed by every single Spanish person when talking about absolutely any subject.
People on the street who appear to be on the verge of fisty-cuffs but are actually just talking casually about what happened on Big Brother last night.
It’s about people walking down the street while having intimate conversations on their phones and not feeling the need to whisper.
It’s about intense displays of public affection.
It’s all “Vale, vale, vale!” and “Claro!” and “Que chulooooo… no?”.
It’s old timers showing the youngsters how it’s done, drinking wine and reading the paper at 8.30am in the morning.
It’s finding the best wine and tapas at the grungiest little dive bars.
It’s deliberating over the quality of your bravas and tortilla as if they were the work of a genius, but never quite being satisfied.
It’s about streets drenched in light.
Art at every turn.
Independence and passion for politics.
It’s wearing shorts and t-shirt in winter and being genuinely surprised when it actually gets cold.
It’s moving in with random people who become lifelong friends. Feeling heartbroken when they leave.
It’s about going on adventures to new countries and spending half the trip talking about how much better Spain is.
It’s speaking your very best Spanish when you enter a shop or bar and the staff responding in perfect English.
It’s being offered a job because you’re a native English speaker.
It’s making friends with other native English speakers and spending most of your time with them, speaking English.
It’s reading the English version of El Pais.
It’s meeting locals who speak to you in English and can’t understand why your Spanish is so bad.
It’s going for a bike ride and stopping at a terrazza to cool off with a beer, then arriving home hours later and realising that you’ve left your bike locked up back at the bar.
It’s meeting the love of your life and talking about starting a family, but worrying about giving your kids names that sound good in Spanish and English.
It’s about realising you are no-longer entirely British, that you are also a tiny bit Spanish, and also Catalan.
It’s about living well and making the most of each day.
It’s about the simple things.