I greatly anticipated my visit to Seville, or Sevilla as it is known in Spain. Growing up in Kansas City, you are acutely aware of the fact that Kansas City and Seville are Sister Cities. There’s a beautiful shopping area of Kansas City known as the Country Club Plaza, (the Plaza) that was built in the 1920’s and was designed architecturally after Seville, Spain. It is commonly referred to as Seville Plaza by locals. The fountains around the Plaza hold wonderful childhood memories for me, including one in which my brother, always pushing the edge just a bit, got a little too close to the slippery stone edge and fell right into the fountain, fully clothed. After college, I lived and worked on the Plaza and walking those streets was like no other neighborhood in Kansas City.
As I got off the train from Madrid to Seville and was walking through the train station, I looked up and one of the signs was directing people to Kansas City Avenue. I got a smile on my face and instantly thought of those beautifully designed buildings and fountains on the Plaza and realized that I was about to be surrounded by even more beauty than those four miles that make up the Country Club Plaza. It wasn’t until I arrived in Seville that I began looking into the history of the Seville/Kansas City relationship and came across a great web article explaining the history and how the Plaza in Kansas City came to be.
Walking the cobblestone streets of Seville with their intertangled routes, I was astounded by the streets themselves and the artistic heritage throughout the city. Parts of the city are expansive, filled with lush gardens, palaces and government buildings that resemble museums. You can walk along the river which has various historic traditions depending on which side of the river you venture into. In other barrios it seems as if you could wander through the streets for hours at a time, lost in the beauty of the buildings, the lively music playing and endless cafes calling you to stop in for a tapa, glass of wine or beer. While Madrid is a thriving city filled with diversity and everything that comes with housing the capital of a country, Seville embodies a mystical presence to me that carries a juxtaposition with it that says, yes I have history, culture and monuments but I also have passion, evident through Flamenco dancing, mystery in my winding streets, and as it states on the official Seville tourism website, a city full of life and possibilities.
On my last day in Seville, I visited the Plaza de España, built within the beautiful Maria Luisa Park, and marveled that this magnificent structure was built in 1929. Not in the 16th or 17th century as much of the architecture would suggest. This structure is six years younger than my house that I just sold in Congress Park in Denver, Colorado yet you feel as if you’re stepping back in time as you walk through the tiled alcoves, eye the exquisite Vicente Traver fountain in the middle of the courtyard and walk across one of the bridges that crosses the canal.
The photograph in this post is one of those bridges. And while the majority of gathers at this grand sight take their picture from atop the bridge, I was enthralled by what lie on the other side. Tucked within the flowering trees, the iron benches calling you to rest in the shade. In life, we have so many bridges that we have the opportunity to cross. If we stall mid-span at the bridge, we must decide, are we moving forward or retreating to that which is familiar? I spent most of my life thus far, in that “familiar” zone. While I love exploring new places, and I especially love taking new jobs, it has always been in a calculated, well planned manner. One in which I am firmly in control and can easy retreat when needed without appearing in the least bit to have failed. But now on this journey, I can only move forward. I know I will stumble, I will make mistakes, and in the absence of more poetic language, shit will happen.
But I also know that I will gain a strength I didn’t even know was possible, I will gain knowledge to see the world from an entirely different perspective, and that in the words of my hometown band, the Flobots “retreat is not an option”. Moving forward means embracing the unknown of what lies on the other side. It means being alright with leaving behind some things that may have served you well in the past, feeling confident that what lies in front of you is greater than you ever thought possible. It’s time to move forward. If there’s something that’s been holding you back, I hope you’ll move forward with me.