Joni Mitchell wrote a song called "Both Sides Now" because of a book she was reading. The author of her book said we were living in an age when people could look up and down at clouds. That sentence gave her the idea for writing "Both Sides Now".
It has taken me awhile to get my mind around Madrid. When people asked me, "how do you like Madrid?", I told them that I wasn't sure yet. That was the truth. Other cities grabbed me immediately: Paris, Venice, London, but I couldn't yet describe or nail down my feelings for Madrid.
I think it grows on you. There wasn't any one iconic landmark for Madrid that I longed to see. I already knew where I wanted to go in the other cities: Paris (Eiffel Tower), Venice (Grand Canal), London (Big Ben), but not here. I couldn't get a feel for Madrid the first few days. We explored, we ate local cuisine, we tried our best to speak Spanish, we lived like the locals, yet it was all missing something. It seemed - removed. It was coy and flirting with us, but not yet ready to give up too many secrets. It was only showing us one side. One illusion.
Then on Friday night, we met dear friends (Carmen & Luis) from Miami for dinner and the city began to open up for me. Perhaps because this is Carmen's home town and she knew what to show us. Perhaps it was because we tried a new restaurant that is owned by a husband and wife who are working so hard to make the restaurant a success and were so kind and appreciative of our business. Perhaps it was because we went to a rooftop terrace that looked over the beautiful buildings and lights of the city. Perhaps it was because we took the metro home well after midnight and it felt very urban. Perhaps it was because my jet lag was nearing an end. Perhaps I started looking at both sides now.
We are almost one week into our time here and the city has begun to show its beauty: it is full of wonderful surprises around each corner. Parks are filled with fall colors in full display. Mercados are filled to overflowing with fruits, vegetables, and seafood that I have never seen before. The plazas are filled with people and music. The pastry shops are filled with delicacies. The people are filled with love. The day is filled with gentle rays from the sun and the night is filled with color and life. These will be the illusions I want to recall long after we leave Madrid.
So to borrow some words from Joni Mitchell and take some poetic liberty. . .I've looked at Madrid from both sides now, from up and down, and still somehow, it's Madrid's illusions I recall. I really don't know Madrid at all. . . but we have lots of time left to explore it and know it. We have lots of time to make it Real Madrid.
At the White Swan in Leicester, England on September 16, 1967, Joni Mitchell introduced her song this way. "This is a song that talks about sides to things. . . there’s reality and I guess what you might call fantasy. There’s enchantment and dis-enchantment. . ." Joni Mitchell Both Sides Now.
If you are ever disenchanted with something, remember to look at it from both sides now.