The Spanish aren’t Known for their Stationary

She was always seeking new experiences. Homesickness was her latest new experience.

Recently, she realized she had never missed home in all her travels and life-embracing, not once.

Had she been too in the moment?

Was there nothing back home to miss?

Had she not been gone long enough?

Whatever the reason, homesickness would be something new. So she made up her mind to think about the people back home and to do the things homesick people do.

First, she would send home some packages.

The gifts she picked, like the homesickness itself, were deliberate and calculated.

Six German fountain pens in six different colors and a stainless steel pencil sharpener. The fountain pens were all for women, and the pencil sharpener was for a guy.

She would include a note explaining the things the people at home might not know: that fountain pens are an everyday item here, and these hadn’t cost her what you might think.

The pencil sharpener was the kind you hold in one hand — while you twist a pencil in it with the other — over a wastebasket. It was improbably heavy for its size, like how she imagined the weight of a bullet. The quality and craftsmanship was obvious from the weight and the brushed finish and the precise lettering that said MADE IN GERMANY in a modern typeface.

She would also have to explain why she was sending German pens and a German pencil sharpener from Spain. The Spanish are not known for their stationary, but the people back home don’t know that.

She tended to let her gut make the important decisions, and right now her gut was telling her to sleep on the gifts. She asked the shopkeeper to hold it all for her.

She continued on the evening walk that had been interrupted by the window display of plastic fountain pens from Germany.

Travel had fine-tuned her gut. She had a sense for which experiences were worthwhile and which ones weren’t. There was always the fear of the wrong country, the wrong meal, the wrong guy, or a dull day trip full of tourists. Sometimes the wrong one looked like the right one. They’re called “tourist traps” for a reason and to avoid them you need taste.

Would they even know how to hold a fountain pen back home?

Would the gifts communicate what she wanted them to, or would they only make people scratch their heads and wish she had sent whatever it is that people expect in the mail from Spain?

It was all too much. She resolved to have a different new experience. And she put the people back home out of her mind.

Valencia, 2017