Our Jesus of the Frutería (photo by M)

This time last year, I was in Amsterdam; in 36 hours I’ll be there again. But a different Amsterdam this time, a way station rather than a destination, with hydro-alcoholic gel everywhere. My flight to the U.S. was canceled, then it was changed a number of times: all that hard work setting up travel during decent hours for nothing. The taxi will drop me me at the Madrid airport at 4 in the morning. A friend says it’ll be crowded, even then: only one terminal’s open. For all I know, you can only leave Madrid to go anywhere else in the world at 6:00 in the morning.

Carefully, with trepidation, I’m traveling from here to there, the end result of a complicated, personal calculus (including PCR tests at the beginning and end of the trip) aimed to gather the troops and eventually get us all in the same place at the same time.

Today’s a holiday in Spain, El Día de la Inmaculada Concepción. Back in old, pre-Covid days, the first weekend of December, which is always a four day weekend because of Inmaculada Concepción and Constitution Day, is prime travel real estate.

This year, as stands to reason, we’re required to stay in the Community of Madrid. All the same, I’ve got plenty of things I should probably be doing. Instead, I’m sitting in the sun, drinking strong sugary cups of Earl Grey tea, reading a book — reading in a way I might not’ve read in years, since those lazy years before children, when it was actually possible to fritter away an entire day without either paying attention to, or answering to, anyone.

The name of the book I’m reading is ˆFlights.

This morning, I realized I had referred to the final leg of the journey back here to Madrid as coming home.