Nuestro Barrio Peligroso 


After having one of the worst and most frightening days in Madrid by dealing with an over zealous landlord, Lauren and I stood in front of door 3B of Calle Pamplona, numero 15 – anxiously waiting for my new roommates to appear. 

Luggage in hand, we were pouring sweat from dragging it around. Then we heard a clicking noise, the sound of the key twisting within the door, unlatching the hinges to allow entrance – each click unhinging my own nerves.

Two dark-haired girls stood before me, wearing pajamas and shy smiles. We introduced ourselves, between words and cheek kisses. 

Inside my new, and bigger room, Lauren presented me with a small bottle of champagne – champagne, always for celebrating, and today was a new beginning; a new opportunity. 

My hand wrapped around the neck of the bottle, as I walked into the kitchen to put it inside the fridge, and there you were, washing the dishes. The cabinet door above you open, as you placed wet cups inside. 

“You can put your stuff at the bottom of the fridge, we left space for you.”

I timidly half grinned at you, and held up the bottle for you to see, “I don’t need much space now, all I have is alcohol… the most important thing.” 

You cocked your head to the side at my response and peered at me through your black-rimmed glasses, your green eyes strikingly vibrant and bright with curiosity. Letting out a half-chuckle, you went back to washing plates. I wanted to know what you were thinking then; first impressions tend to be so deceiving. 


We are spending our last hours together, currently you’re packing your last suitcase and I am sitting here trying to put into words what I want to tell you. 

It’s always really difficult for me to be serious and express to people how much they mean to me. 

My words tend to come out wrong, and instead of mustering out an “I love you,” things like “you’re so dumb” pass over my tongue — accompanied by laughter. 

We all have different ways of saying, “I love you, I care about you, you’re a good friend.” 

And I truly hope — with every joke, with every drink, with every meal, with every crazy moment we have shared together – that you understand how much I appreciate our friendship. 

Before I moved to Madrid, I lived with my best friend from back home. After leaving him to move to a different country, I never thought I would live with a best friend again for a while. 

I guess I was wrong, upon meeting you. Not only mistaken about this, but also mistaken by my first impression of you. I have never felt so happy to be wrong. 

Your friendship has become one of my favorite poems; I guess what I’m trying to say is thank you: 

For all the nights we have stayed up until 2am, talking and laughing about life – and even the days where we sat comfortably in silence; you studying, and me writing. 


6am mornings when we would make our way back home from a discoteca, bodies tired from dancing and the consumption of alcohol. 


Singing at the top of our lungs, horribly out of pitch together, that it sounded perfectly in sync. 


 The moments we spent eating – salchipapas, guacamole, Tex-Mex flavored Doritos, ice cream – you always humored my American cravings. And that is something I’m endlessly thankful for. Friends who eat together, stay together. Remember when you tried fries with ice cream? Portugal treated us so well. 


And of course, how could I ever forget you staying back with me, us both thinking we would miss the flight to Madrid. I’ll never forget that moment – for me, this changed our whole friendship, it solidified it – no longer friends of convenience because we were roommates, but friends simply because the universe conspired in our favor and presented me with someone worthy of becoming part of my delta.


You cared in your own ways, too – it didn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated. The times you made me cheesecake, birthday gifts, kept me from doing stupid things while drunk, advised me about old and new lovers, being my running and gym partner, having water fights, the small notes you’d write me to inform me of what you were doing in my absence – going with me to get my first tattoo, and calming me from my fear of needles. 



The only constant in life is change, and in math, the symbol used for change is the triangle. Your mom also reminded me that it stands for perfection. No doubt an allusion to the holy trinity. But my triangle is different from that of the Christian one.

My only religion is love; love is what I believe in, you understood this, we discussed belief systems many times; your Catholic ideas and my humanitarian philosophy endlessly colliding and challenging each other. 

Three points on the triangle, three kinds of love to symbolize; family, friendship, and romance – all combined into self-love. That is my trinity, which you have now entered.

And once someone is part of my delta, it’s forever. I will always love that person, no matter how much time and distance separate us. 

And that’s basically what my tattoo stands for – ever-changing love, perfect in all forms. And to remind myself that change is inevitable, so if I’m going to change, I will always change for the better. And who better to have been with me when I permanently marked my skin, than you? 

What I’m trying to tell you is: thank you, Nanetta, for coming into my life and making it better, for making me a better friend, a better writer, a better human. For being my friend and family, my home away from home. For all the beautiful memories we have shared, and for all the moments we will create in the future. 

I wish you infinite happiness and success in your life – because you are such a beautiful soul. 

This isn’t goodbye… we’ll see each other again. 


1:24am 1st of July, 2015

You sat on your side of the table, across from me, as always. Slight fever coursing through your body, you stubbornly refused medication, so that we could complete our promise and share one last drink together, before your departing flight in the morning. 

I set the champagne between us, two glass cups accompanying it. It was the bottle from my first day moving in. We made a pact we would finally drink it on the last night in our apartment. 

While I unraveled the foil hiding the top, you were taking down the post-its from our wall — the wall where we stuck colloquial phrases and translations in English and Italian. 



I finally managed to twist the top open, pouring the carbonated liquid into our glasses. I felt overwhelmed by feelings of doing things for the “last” time together in Madrid – I held my glass in the air towards you: 

“Champagne is for celebrating, nanetta, so we won’t say goodbye.” 

Your sea colored eyes peered into mine, a shade of green that reminded me of hope. A smile played on the corner of your lips, as you raised your glass to mine, “To new beginnings, nanetta.”



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