My dad has this habit of suggesting things. If I’m visiting a certain city, he’ll mention a show I should go see or a person I should meet up with. Never mind that I don’t know the person — it’s his cousin’s best friend from fourth grade — or have any interest in the show — but it’s about birds! everyone likes birds! — he will insist that I check it out. Over the years, I have learned to smile and nod and say, “Sure thing, Dad. I’ll definitely look into it,” with no intention of doing so at all.
When I studied abroad in Spain two years ago, I thought I would be free of my dad’s suggestions. He doesn’t speak Spanish. Who could he know in Spain? So imagine my surprise when right before I left, he called to tell me there was something I just HAD to check out.
“Yes, bridges. By a man named… Calatrava.”
“Did you write that down?”
“They’re in Valencia.”
“Dad, I’m in Madrid.”
“You can’t go to Valencia?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, try to see them.”
“Sure thing, Dad. I’ll definitely look into it.”
When I booked my trips — to Seville to see Marci, to Barcelona, to Paris — I thought nothing of my conversation with my dad. But the program I was in, IES, arranged a couple weekend trips for us, including one to Valencia.
I was actually late to the Valencia trip because I was coming on my own from Seville, where I had spent Marci’s birthday with her, refusing to drink sangria. (Sorry!! I probably should have had some…) So when I did finally meet up with my classmates, I was exhausted. I was half-asleep as we rode on the tour bus with our guide narrating the history of each sight as we passed.
I woke up when I saw this:
This is the entrance to L’Oceanografic, Valencia’s amazing zoo/aquarium, and part of their Ciutat de les Arts i de les Ciencies, most of which is designed by — you guessed it — Santiago Calatrava. I rolled my eyes when I heard our tour guide intone his name through her microphone. My dad was never going to let me hear the end of this.
But as I saw more of Calatrava’s architecture, I fell in love, with his work and the city that embraced it, and I decided that maybe I should listen to my father more often.