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 around family."
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."