Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s late afternoon here in New Hometown, Florida on Monday, November 16, 2020. Presently, the temperature is 80˚F (26˚C) under mostly sunny skies; with humidity at 71% and the wind blowing from the north-northeast at 7 MPH (11 KM/H), the heat index is 80˚F (26˚C). The forecast for tonight calls for mostly clear skies and a low of 59˚F (15˚C).
Today I feel somewhat…unsettled and wistful. I find myself looking back at happier times and wishing that I could travel back in time to escape from my so-called life in this anno horriblis of 2020 and be not just elsewhere but else-when as well. I know, I know. Time travel is impossible, but it doesn’t hurt anyone if I fantasize about going to a time and place where I was younger, less cynical, and still had a modicum of self-agency, optimism, and a sense of adventure.
If I had my way – and if I could somehow fiddle with the time-space continuum – I would love to travel back to November of 1988. That’s when I was a 25-year-old college student and a participant in the College Consortium for International Studies (CCIS) Semester in Spain program in Sevilla (Seville), Spain.
32 years ago, as I recall, the 42 students who participated in the CCIS program during the Fall Term of the 1988-1989 academic year were getting ready for the Thanksgiving dinner that Lisa Dolan, the student activities director, had arranged with the staff at a now-defunct Italian restaurant called Carlino that was located not too far away from the CCIS Center at No. 16 Calle Adolfo Rodriguez Jurado.
November 16, 1988 fell on a Wednesday, so Thanksgiving was still eight days away. By then, we had already gone on our last – and longest – out of town trip to Granada, which was not only memorable because it was our one and only overnight excursion, but also because it was the first time I ever got seriously drunk. (I also remember the delicious callos a la madrileña that I ate at Restaurante Los Manueles shortly before I got inebriated by drinking too much red wine with the program director, Dr. Juan Durá, and the aforementioned student activities director. The restaurant is still there, the callos a la madrileña, alas, are no longer in the menu.)
I lost most of the CCIS Center-related documentation I brought back to the States, but as I recall, we didn’t have any more out-of-town trips on the schedule. The semester, which started for us in late September, was coming to an end in less than three weeks, so the Thanksgiving dinner would be our last extracurricular activity before we turned in our term papers and studied for our various final exams.
This is how I described our last weeks in Seville for my college campus student newspaper in a column that I wrote in December of 1988 from my apartment in Los Remedios:
We’re not quite ready to go home yet
Written in December 1988, published March 2, 1989)
SEVILLE, Spain (CCIS Program)
The winter holiday season has arrived and here in Seville the 42 students participating in the CCIS Semester in Spain program are looking beyond the upcoming final exams and planning their return home or further European travel.
Already, they have celebrated Thanksgiving, traditionally a very homey holiday, truly away from home as they are 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean.
Most of the group celebrated a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner, prepared by Italian chefs at the three-star restaurant Carlino. The meal, judging by the students’ comments, was psychologically, if not gastronomically, successful.
“The group really came together,” said Sandra Langlois, a freshman from Miami-Dade’s South Campus. “It was really special for me because I am French, and it was my first American Thanksgiving. I really got the true feeling of the tradition of the holiday – togetherness.”
Now, a few weeks later, students’ thoughts are geared to either further travel throughout the holiday or their homecoming.
Melissa Miller, a senior from Lake Forest College in Chicago, said, “I’ll be spending the holidays in Vienna, Austria, so I’ll be sure to have a white Christmas, and I won’t be alone because I’m traveling with a bunch of friends.”
However, the majority of the participants in the program are ready to go home — some more than others.
“I’m ready to go home,” said Bob Holzweiss, a junior from St. Bonaventure College in New York State. “I’ve been here 12 weeks, and that’s enough.”
“I miss the luxuries of home — convenience stores and fast food joints — and also my car, my family and friends,” said Ingrid Gottlieb, a student from Broward Community College. “And I miss my boyfriend.”
Others, such as Wendy Page, a sophomore from South Campus, decided to stay for the Spring Term.
“Three months is just not enough time for me to get a full taste of the culture and lifestyle that Seville has to offer,” she said.
And although he’s leaving at the end of the semester, Fairfield University’s Mike Boucher agreed.
“A lot of good things have happened here in terms of self-discovery, friendship, independence, and sense of perspective, and I don’t think I’m ready to go home.”
Also contributing to this column is Michelle Kirby, foreign correspondent for Beacon, North Adams State College, Mass. and Mainsheet, Cape Cod CC’s student newspaper.
Okay, I know that time travel is impossible, and even if It weren’t, I don’t know if there would be two versions of me existing in Seville simultaneously, or if my backward jaunt to 1988 would obliterate 1988 me and leave 2020 me stranded both in Spain and in the past. (Also, would I be 57 years old then as I am now, or would I somehow revert to being 25 years old?)
Oh, well. I guess it’s a silly fantasy, this time travel thing. But a little daydreaming never hurt anyone, right?