Oso y Madroño statue, Prosperidad metro stop
One day into our new place, I had already had a meltdown. Highlights of the day that contributed to this:
- I was exhausted from moving everything via metro the day before
- I felt lost—I didn’t know where anything in the new neighborhood was
- An attempt to copy a pair of keys took two (TWO!) hours
- Procedures at the bank in this barrio were different than what I was used to at my old branch…even though they both belong to the exact same company
- A new neighbor complained that our shower made too much noise. She informed me that she heard it at the ungodly hour of 8:30 a.m., and didn’t I know people were sleeping?!
- Another neighbor heard me speak one sentence in Spanish and demanded (in what I perceive as a demeaning tone) to know where I am from
I grumbled about all this to Andres on our first night, when I was still overwhelmed by the newness of it all—“This neighborhood has no character!” He paused for a moment, then insisted, “It does have character, just not one you like.”
Wide-open streets, oh my!
Bouncing from lively Malasaña to muted Prosperidad was like night and day. In contrast to the youthful scene I was used to, at the bank, at the grocery store, at the frutería, I would be the youngest by not one, but two generations. At all of these same places, little old ladies would badger me, or, even worse, simply cut in line. I hated it when they plowed into me; this would never happen in Malasaña, where the only road risk was being run over by a hipster.
You know you live in an old-school barrio when….
We did our best to search out interesting places in the new neighborhood. When a friend told us he had lived in the barrio, I was immediately on the edge of my seat, breathlessly asking, “Where are some cool places to go?” I imagined he would offer up little-known gems tucked away on tiny streets. To my astonishment–and obvious disappointment–he proclaimed our own street was the place to be.
Uncomfortable with my crestfallen look, the friend quickly added, “Well, in the summer the street fills up with terrazas, and people are all outside eating, drinking, and enjoying the sun.” I made a mental note to check back and see if that was actually true.
Even though summery terraza weather is yet to hit, I am enjoying the positive aspects the barrio has to offer—wide-open streets, two parks within walking distance, cheap(er) restaurants, a relative quietness, and, above all, a cozy apartment with central heating.
It also brought something I didn’t realize I needed until I got it—change. Moving to a new neighborhood shakes up your routine, introduces you to new people and places, and transports you out of your comfort zone. It made me reevaluate my time in Madrid by making me think about the places and details I love about the city. I wouldn’t say I appreciate the center more, exactly, but it has given me another perspective. At the same time, I can be more honest with myself about the downsides of living in the center, and stop holding my breath about the things that drove me nuts.
The Torres Blancas
Equally as important, the move reminded me of how much there still is to explore. If we hadn’t moved here, I wouldn’t have discovered the Torres Blancas building with its funky architecture, the awesome Thai restaurant on our doorstep, or the personajillo who lays a blanket out on the sidewalk everyday and hawks a changing assortment of books. I can’t help but wonder–What else is waiting to be discovered?
Can you share an experience moving within your own city? Do you have any advice for moving to a new place?