On the weekend, I went to my pueblo and slept at a friend's house. In the morning, I woke up to the most interesting sensation: I felt at home. The quiet comfort of the bedroom I was in, rock music eminating from the bathroom as someone showered, the clink of spoons stirring pots as the day's lunch was being prepared in the kitchen, a low murmur in the livingroom coming from a film on the television. The sounds soothed me, and I felt relaxed knowing there were people in the house.
Quite often, when I've lived with friends or alone, I wake up to an empty apartment. I never realized, until that morning, how much I missed waking up to sounds of people in the house. The last time I heard noise upon waking, I was living with a boyfriend. Before that, with my family. All very long ago.
Sure, my Spanish friends that live with their family aren't necessarily happy about it. In most cases, the economic situation has forced them to move back home. They may see my lot in life and feel envy. But the grass is always greener. I stay at friends' houses and receive fantastic conversation and the best meals ever prepared by motherly hands.
In Canada, my friends and I had "Orphans' Thanksgiving", where instead of gathering with family, we would head to someone's house with food and wine and have dinner together. It's widely acknowledged that many single people cannot, or don't want, to be with family during the holidays. As a person who has celebrated this way for years, I look at the family situation in Spain with envious eyes sometimes. Luckily, I have friends who are willing to extend their family to include me, and I am grateful for that.