21 Jan 2018

White Christmas

 December 2007. We had been moving all our belongings to a new house and the winter just came as we finished the exhausting, long-awaited process. Cold, white winter under a new roof seemed like the perfect way to end a year that had brought with it some changes that, like every decisive and life-changing event, were not yet fully understood as such It had been a different year, some new friendships grew in unexpected places while others that seemed future-proof were about to end, but I was not aware yet how determining those signs would be in the long term.

Kitchen views, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
Balcony viewsGX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
La Gorga, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
I did not know for example, among other things, that the Christmas that was about to begin would be the last one I would enjoy back home with all my family in 10 years, nor that I would never feel below zero temperatures in the same amount of time. Fast forward to last month, December 2017, and after all these long years I had the chance to finally make it all the way back home to spend some long yearned for Christmas like the ones that punctuated every winter of my childhood and adolescence without fail.

Road to childhood, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
San Sebastián hermitage, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
Road to childhood II, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
Road to childhood III, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
In the summer of 2008, following a hunch, I had applied to a job overseas (in Singapore, no less than 11,000 km away from my home country, Spain), and, once I got the job, I packed my things and said goodbye to 29 years of comfortable life in a question of just 3 weeks. My mother couldn't believe what was happening, as it went all so fast that she had no time to bring herself to the idea of me leaving to such a faraway, unknown place. I, on the other hand, to be honest, didn't want to think much about it, and I decided that it was time for a change without putting much thought into it. I just caught the opportunity on the fly and went along with it.

Boltaña, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
Boltaña II, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
Boltaña III, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
Boltaña IV, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
Umbrella in Boltaña, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
It was intended to be a one year experience in a language school, but it was soon extended to 3 when I moved to neighboring Malaysia for another 2-year contract at a local university in Kuala Lumpur, then it stretched once more to 6 years when I continued traveling up North, this time to Thailand, to work at a university in Bangkok, and finally last summer I passed the 9 year mark in the same city but starting anew at an International School. All these years  populated by countless experiences, travels and restarts, but, for different reasons, not a single one of the 9 Christmas that came to pass would be enjoyed back home. Until the last one.

Boltaña V, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
Boltaña VI, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
Boltaña VII, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
Boltaña VIII, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
As if honoring a decade of tropical Christmas (mind you, I didn't spend them alone, for my family came to visit me on 4 of those Christmas, which happen to coincide with my birthday as well), I booked a flight well in advance and I cleared all my other postponed holiday destinations, and I said to myself that it was about time to return home and relearn what a real family Christmas meant. And so, full of anticipation, the day of my trip came at last and, with the warmest clothes that I could find buried in the bottom of my evergreen summer-wardrobe, I departed.

Sagrado Corazón, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
The bell tower, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
Red concrete mixer, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
Winter textures, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
Sorrosal waterfall, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
And what a wonderful time I had! My family, spread around different (and distant) provinces of Spain, gathers together around my grandfather in my hometown every Christmas, and the warmth of being amongst all of them at once, celebrating what traditionally had always been a time of food and talks, was surprisingly emotional and rewarding. Not only that, but the weather shared my excitement and dressed the land with crystalized frost and steamy mist every morning, and it even snowed copiously one December morning towards the end of the year, as if welcoming me back home with all the bells and whistles of a proper, Pyrenees Christmas.

Loudenvielle, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
Loudenvielle II, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
Loudenvielle III, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
Loudenvielle IV, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm
The three weeks I spent back home ended much faster than I wanted, and I left with confronted feelings, equal parts gratitude for offering me a taste of a long-missed tradition and sorrow because I ignored completely how long it would take me to have another chance like that again. Whatever happens, it was an unforgettable holiday amongst loved ones and the images scattered through this post are only humble traces of them.

The Pyrenees, GX80 + Panasonic Leica 15mm