Today I discovered my new favorite mystery – Rua da la Rosa, 3.
On the outskirts of town, the tall looming highrise apartment buildings give way to a strange tiny clump of large single homes in a misplaced neighborhood. The homes are huge, elegant, like something to be found in Naperville or Evanston. Even on the busy street, they are secluded, with high iron gates, tall trees, and dark windows. They are a mystery.
But Number 3 is different. The ivy and weeds have taken over a once well-kept lawn. The beautifully arched windows are broken and dusty. The padlock on the door has rusted through. The front gate is bent and crooked, and the memories of a child’s slide and swingset are barely visible through the undergrowth in the backyard. If anyplace was going to be haunted, this house would be it.
It is a picture-perfect ghost house, and finding it in Santiago just heightens these suspicions. In a town where growth and development run at a rapid pace, it seems extremely odd that such a beautiful house would stay uninhabited long enough to fall into such disrepair. Under the cloudy skies of a dusky evening with a cold wind, it almost comes to life, its history playing itself out in my mind. I have to find out what happened.
Last Saturday, the impossible happened in Santiago – it snowed. Despite reports of blizzards heading directly for the west coast and leaving the entire north of Spain covered in a frosty mist, Compostelanos still remained steadfastly convinced that snow would never fall here. It was fitting, then, that Jill, Joshua, and I (from Colorado, Boston, and Chicago – all snowy places) were together when we left the restaurant at midnight and collectively gasped in disbelief at the tiny white flakes that were covering the plaza. We danced in them, caught them on our tongues, took pictures of them, and reveled in the freezing cold required for the crystallization of water to occur. It only lasted ten minutes, but I will always be able to say that I saw snow in Santiago.
Tonight it was much warmer but it smelled of rain. Tomorrow it will rain, for sure.
Tonight I carried Eliana’s suitcase up the hill and to the plaza where we waited for a taxi. All of a sudden the rapidity of time caught up with us, and the tranquility of the past five months was irreparably broken. She finished her exams, packed her things, and went back to Estonia, to continue life as it was before the Great Adventure. She was just the first. We realized that all of this, us, is coming to an end. The loud voices, the washing machine always running, the food always cooking on the stove, the laughing and craziness, the mops on the ceiling to quiet the neighbors, the cookies and pizza, the hallway dancing. We were never close, but I will miss it anyway, as I always miss it when I get comfortable and then, as always, I have to say goodbye. The goodbye girl, and I’m not even the one who’s leaving. I finally feel as if I can stay here in this place, and be somewhere for more than a minute, but it’s the same anyway. I’m always saying goodbye.