Jukebox

Meredith M. is currently a junior at SYA Spain and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Milton Academy in Massachusetts.

A few days before I left for Spain, I went on a car ride with my dad. We had just finished eating dinner and decided to go on an evening drive as the sun set. I remember hanging my arm out the side of the car, making little waves with my hand as we drove past my favorite ice cream shop and the little convenience store at the end of the block. Everything felt so familiar, so homey and safe. The sun was setting, and as I sat in the passenger seat, my dad handed me the aux cord. 

“Jukebox?” he asked. 

“You know it,” I responded, as I always did. 

The bittersweet pang of familiarity, and knowing that soon I would leave it, gave me chills. But I decided to enjoy the moment as I plugged my phone in, ready to play our favorite car ride game.

The rules of Jukebox are really pretty simple: first, you choose a category. It can be anything, from songs that make you want to dance, to your favorite sad song. Then, each person must choose their favorite song that belongs under the category chosen. The best one wins. For years, I have played this with my family– especially my dad. We play for hours, discovering new tunes as we go. 

When I moved to Zaragoza, I was so busy adjusting to a whole new world that I forgot about this simple game and other small moments like these. As time went on, I became more and more invested in Spain me, putting the United States me on pause. Instead of plugging my iPhone into the aux cord each morning on the ride to school, I became accustomed to overhearing Spanish conversations on the tranvía. My life was so different in Spain than in the United States that it almost felt as if I had taken on a new identity. This change is subtle, of course, almost unnoticeable. However, I can see the shift within my two selves in the instances when Spain me merges with United States me, surprising me each time. 

A couple weeks ago, I experienced this merging of my two lives while sitting in the backseat of a car. I was being driven back home after a long comida with my brother’s former host family. Luckily, I have really gotten to know the family with whom he stayed when he attended SYA two years ago. In a way, they have become a second host family to me. The sun was beginning to set, and as my brother’s host dad, Raul, my friend, Brookelynn, and I all sat in the car, I proposed we play a game. Struggling to translate jukebox into Spanish, I opted for: Un juego de canciones. Everyone agreed, and as I connected my iPhone to the car’s bluetooth, I created the category: canciones sobre el verano, songs about the summer. Raul went first, playing an upbeat Spanish song I had never heard before. He turned the volume up, and we all listened, bopping our heads to the rhythm and rolling the windows down. I hung my arm out the window and watched as the sun went down and the lights of the city glowed brighter. As we passed by my favorite cafes and restaurants the familiar homey and safe feeling returned. The bittersweet pang of familiarity, and the knowing that soon I would have to leave it all. 

With Jukebox, my two lives merged. That day in the car, I could see how much my life had changed, yet how I had also found the same familiar feeling of home in Zaragoza. And there is something so special about this revelation–the thought that I, all on my own, could feel so comfortable in a place so far from my house, from my family. That day in the car, as we all bonded over our favorite songs, I felt like I truly belonged. 

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