What's your first memory of Spain? "I got off the bus in
Talavera de la Reina, and my Spanish mother was there to pick me up
at the bus station. I couldn't understand a thing she said. She
spoke, like, 500 miles per hour. She took me to meet my exchange
brother, then I slowly met the rest of the family. I felt like I
had been transported to another planet. I was really homesick the
first week. But it was such a charming, peaceful town, and we were
allowed more freedom than I had in New York. We went to see
bullfights, which are pretty unbearable. We would go dancing, and
they would try to teach me this very traditional, old Spanish
dancing women do, which is amazing. The family is always together.
Everybody comes home every day to eat lunch together, and then they
all go back off to school or work. Everything is very centered
And you fell in love with the country? "Totally. I never
looked back, and I did not want to go home. The next time I went I
was 19, and I have gone basically once a year at least ever since."
Talavera de la Reina sounds like a pretty little village.
"It is. There is an old part of the city that's really beautiful.
The new part is sort of famous for being not that pretty. But the
most famous ceramics in Spain come from there. It's all that
beautiful blue and white painted pottery."
So, when you returned to Madrid at 19, what did you do?
"Well, I didn't have any money, really. I can't even remember where
I stayed. It was in the old section of Madrid, which is amazing. It
was sort of a cross between a hotel and a youth hostel, and it
overlooked a beautiful square. I went with some friends and we just
walked everywhere. We went to all the museums and all the bars and
restaurants. I have always loved it there. Now I go to Madrid and I
go south to Talavera to go see my family."