Last night I decided to go for a drink with Jenn and Alan, a couple I met last week. Jenn is from Mexico and moved to Copenhagen a year or so ago, after marrying her Danish boyfriend. They are both really nice. The day we met we had a conversation about how difficult it is to make friends here in Denmark, even for the locals themselves. I find it a little bit odd that people here are so comfortable with public nudity, drugs and alcohol and yet they really have a hard time interacting with strangers; it’s totally fine to take your panties down and pee in the middle of the street in front of everybody but it’s deemed inappropriate to start a conversation with the person sitting next to you on the bus. Sometimes, Denmark it’s just one big contradiction.
Anyway, yesterday when I got back home, I saw this on my Facebook timeline:
I could totally relate to that feeling. Since I moved to Copenhagen, a city in which I knew no one when I decided to come, I realized how much I miss my friends and what a big difference they make when they’re around. After that emotional outbreak I had the other day, I decided to make an effort to connect with the people I like, to try my best to stay in touch and get to know them and to reach out whenever either of us needed it, which is why that Facebook status felt like a Bat-signal to me; I texted Jenn right away and asked them to go out for a drink. An hour later we were in a really cool bar that is a stone’s throw away from where I live, enjoying some very well crafted beer. A couple of girls sat next to us and eventually we started chatting. Turns out one of them was from Spain and the other from Georgia, a country I think I’d never heard of before. Christina, the girl from Madrid, lives 50 meters away from my place and Ana, the girl from Tbilisi, lives just around the corner so technically we’re all neighbours. What a lovely coincidence. They are both really cool girls and we have all agreed to meet up again and grab a drink together (Ana has also promised me to play an ugly interpretation of my favourite Soundgarden song on the piano if we ever find one in Copenhagen – that’s probably not going to happen but would I like to pretend it will).
Now, I would like to go back in time and talk about that Spanish wedding I attended to last weekend. Usually, weddings are dreadful events I try to avoid at all cost, mostly because I find them long and boring and a bit awkward. Hernán Casciari explained this better than I ever would in a fantastic post he wrote long time ago (sorry, it’s in Spanish but I’m sure you can Google Translate and still get the idea) so instead of elaborating on the reasons why I normally prefer to skip these kind of social events, I’d rather tell you why I went all the way from Copenhagen to Madrid for this particular ceremony.
You see, there’s something really special about Madrid and the group of people I’ve grown close to down there that keeps me going back, year after year, with tremendous excitement. Last time I was there was for my birthday, in 2012, just a few days after falling from that stupid bike in Valencia, an embarrassing accident that resulted in a broken leg, a knee brace, crutches and 4 months of intense physical and mental struggle. Fortunately for me, there were a bunch of fantastic people around me to get me through those shitty times. One of them was Ana, the girl that got married last weekend. The story of how I met her, her husband and half of the wedding’s guests is one that started back in July 2006, during my first visit to Madrid, almost by accident. I had gone there to take part in a Summer course at an advertising school in which my friend Rafa (nothing but a complete stranger at that time) used to teach. He and his creative partner gave a talk about radio advertising and after the class, I remember Rafa mentioned he had a blog so I asked him to write down the address in a little piece of paper and once I was back home, I checked it out and simply loved it. He was funny and witty and thoughtful and a bit outrageous at times; I knew right away this was a dude I could learn a lot from.
During the following years, I e-mailed Rafa infinite times, mostly to ask him advice on my crappy ads. No matter how flat and amateurish my ideas were, he always took the time to go through them and offered perspective without any trace of condescending cordiality. I liked that. With time, the nature of our interactions shifted and started to be less about advertising and more about other things. Nicer things. Like Gianna Michaels or Pantera, for example. Turns out we both have a soft spot for big boobs and metal music so I guess we bonded over that. In fact, in 2009, my friend Ross got me tickets for a Metallica show at Palacio de los Deportes and having a spare VIP ticket, I thought the best thing to do was to give Rafa a call and invite him to join the heavy metal feast. His brother Curro happened to be at the show too (pure coincidence) so once the gig was over, we all decided to go for a drink. That was the first time I met Curro and we hit it off right away.
A year later, I invited Rafa to be my guest on the first episode of the GustaPOD, the podcast I’ve been hosting since 2010. At the end of the episode, I asked Rafa to think of someone I could invite for a future installment and he suggested me to record a podcast with Curro (who I hadn’t talked to since that Metallica show) and Quico, one of Curro’s friends, who I had never seen or spoken to before. The idea of interviewing 2 blokes I barely knew felt a bit counterintuitive at first but we went ahead with it and it turned out to be one of the funnest episodes I’ve ever recorded. Quico, I soon discovered, was one of the coolest guys you could ever meet; he’s sharp as a butcher’s knife, loves Eddie Van Halen and has a twisted sense of humour that knows no boundaries. He’s the kind of people I enjoy. By the end of the recording, I felt like I knew these guys all my life.
Shortly after, I went to Spain and I met Quico and Curro, face to face, along with many of their friends, including Ana and Dani, the couple that got married last weekend. They are all an amazing bunch I try to meet every time I’m in Madrid. Last year, when I said I was going to spend my birthday there, they surprised me with presents and drinks, isn’t that great? A couple of months later, Ana moved to London to work at the Olympics and that, to me, was a blessing; if you’re at home, on crutches, with a knee brace and a Masters’ project to work on, trust me, apart from your mum, Ana is the person you’d like to have around. She visited me often, bought me food, took me out for walks, helped me with my project, and gave me the heads up when she spotted a hot redhead in the street. She is a fucking legend.
That’s why I couldn’t miss this wedding. As soon as I heard about it, I booked my tickets, took some days off from work, rented a suit, rolled it up in a backpack and flew there just to be part of an unforgettable celebration. There are many reasons why this matrimony was so special but will only point out a few: a) the moment the groom and his bride became husband and wife, they hi-fived. Yes, a bloody high five in front of the priest just when everyone was expecting them to kiss. It was BRILLIANT. I guess is one of those things I will always remember and will secretly fantasize about doing in my own wedding, whenever that happens. b) Quico performed Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” with an electric guitar (tapping included at the end), a soprano and a 100€ amp that sounded like a bloody Marshall SL5. c) The party’s playlist included Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper”.
On top of it all, I managed to finally visit Quique and Tamy’s café, “La Bicicleta”, which is one of the nicest coffeeshops/bars you would find in Madrid; I met with Carlos, Geo and Jan, who I hadn’t seen in a long time; saw my friend Alan and his new girlfriend, who is very sweet and seems to be quite serious about the whole thing; visited Rafa and Curro’s parents, who I consider my family after that Christmas dinner in which they made me feel at home, just when I needed it the most; recovered my “Things The Grandchildren Should Know” copy that Curro had kept for more than a year hidden in the depths of his bedroom, had a donut and a coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts, and stayed at Rafa’s new apartment a.k.a. Giliday Inn, a nice and cozy place that feels like he has been occupying it for a over a decade. All in all, a terrific trip worth every minute I spent enduring the crying baby seated behind me on the flight back to Copenhagen.
Now, back to the present. I need to edit an episode of the podcast that I recorded with Alec Ducson, the mastermind behind Intern Magazine, more than a month ago, but I’m also tired and lazy and want to catch up with “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, a series that is slowly growing on me. Editing… watching TV. Editing… watching TV.
What would Brian Boitano do?