27 December 2010

Pomegranate Seeds

Let's discuss the title of this blog. Yes, let's talk about it now, before I really begin-- before it's too late and too awkward. I've spent weeks making lists of names, scribbling them down whenever inspiration strikes, on any available surface-- on a receipt from Hobby Lobby that I found on my floor and haven't thrown away yet even though it's from 2007 and the items listed come to a total of $4.26, and a used napkin, and my body. Españecdotes? Spainal Sex? Tea Time in Spanish Gypsy Caves? No, none of that. My inspiration came from an entirely unexpected source: Freud. Psychosexual Development. I decided I needed my own model, but of Travel-Adventure Development. The start of my study abroad program in Granada, Spain marks the beginning of the Spainal Phase (alternative spelling: Spanal phase). The Ecuadoral Phase mentioned in the description refers to the time I spent in Ecuador in the summer of 2009. The bottom line is that I'm studying abroad and this is my blog about it. Feel free to live as vicariously as you wish through my sporadic, though hopefully frequent, posts.

According to the RC Student's Bible (wordreference.com-- praise be to It), when translated from Spanish to English, Granada means both pomegranate and hand grenade. In two weeks, I will arrive-- most likely sleep deprived, delirious, and excited to the point of recklessness and nausea-- in Granada: a city dually named after fruitful production, and the capacity for destruction. It is the hometown of García Lorca-- giver of literary life, victim of violence. Granada is an appropriate name, a balance of fruit and war, prosperity and loss. Meet our mascot: Greek maiden Persephone, daughter of Demeter, taken to the underworld and, as the myth goes, destined to remain there for a portion of the year, all because she ate some goddamn pomegranate seeds. (The Greek Mythology class I took in the Winter of 2010 wasn't worthless after all; I now know not to fuck with Hades' fruits or vegetables.) I am not Persephone, and Granada is anything but the underworld, but I, like Persephone, will be bound to Granada, for half of this year, the minute I give myself to it. Persephone's myth is about balance, new life, and destruction-- as is Granada, city of pomegranates and hand grenades.

For some background information, I'll tell you everything I know about my program: I leave on January 10th for Spain, and will return to the United States on July 10th, with just enough time to catch the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 and inevitably plummet into a deep depression. I'll take classes at la Universidad de Granada and Centro Granadí Español, and I'm living with a host mom named Josefa (whose infant granddaughter will be a daily presence; I began to emotionally prepare for that about a week ago). And, uh, well, that's it. You and I now both know exactly the same amount of information about what is to come. Another way of phrasing that sentence would be: The University of Michigan doesn't tell us shit about its study abroad programs. 
Here's a map of Spain. Granada is on it.


I feel the familiar fizziness that inhabits my intestines and central vascular system at the start of a new adventure. I recognize this feeling-- it comes quietly in the night, during a fitful slumber, or sometimes attacks in the shower as I shave my left leg. Having absolutely no idea what will happen within the next half a year is nothing less than thrilling. I want to cultivate awareness, honesty with myself, gratitude-- for my youth, for the opportunities that present themselves to me, for the people I know, for being alive. As I embark on what will be the greatest adventure of my life thus far, I send happiness to, and gratitude for, you. I wish you a marvelous, soul-pleasing semester, wherever you may be, whatever you may be doing. Next stop: Granada. I shall feed from its seeds.