My studio apartment is quaint. It’s near the Mediterranean sea. It’s not particularly warm as it’s still early spring, but who wouldn’t want to live 5 minutes away from the beach?

But it’s so isolated. I realize now just how dependent on internet I have become. The combination of no internet and nothing but basic Spanish channels is harrowing. The silence can be deafening. I always like to be on my own, but amongst other people.

Spain is such a communal society and since I don’t have any amigos to go around with, it’s a rather lonely experience. I’m not mad about it, the truth is I really need to finish my thesis and the down time, is even more opportunity not to get it done.

I guess I was so used to melting in with the host population, that being on my own further highlights the fact that I’m different from (most) everyone else. As my language teacher  pointed out completely out of the blue yesterday, I am not “the standard” because of my skin color, hair etc.  She didn’t mean anything sinister by with her comment, but it was a strange example to bring up in class, I thought.

And so, it has begun. Yes, being back here in Spain is making me wrestle with what it means to be a black woman in a “white” country.

A lot of young West African women here are prostitutes. This is a fact, and I have seen theme crowding Las Ramblas (the Barcelona city center) with my own eyes. I feel for their situation.   At the same time, I have to be smart because I do not want to be misconstrued as one… Ever! (or shall I say ever again). Everything from how I dress to how I wear my hair should be an indication of the fact that I am NOT a mujer de la noche (woman of the night).

This is why sometimes I can’t help but feel like people look at me different. It’s hard to explain. Barcelona is a metropolitan city in every sense of the word. Nonetheless all is not paradise here either. Sometimes I catch women eyeballing me on the train or just staring at me for a little too long and I wonder, “Does she think I’m a prostitute? or do I just happen to be in her eye shot? Is she thinking “what the hell is that girl wearing?” or “ooh, I like her shoes.”  I guess I will never really know.

– N.Y. Spain, March 2008

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