I'm from Barcelona. This simple and straightforward fact always raises expressions of incredulity amongst the people I meet here in Dublin when I tell them I live here:
..."What are you doing here?"
..."Don't you miss the sun?"
..."How could you leave?".
Things become more complicated when they start speaking about football and I have to confess I'm a follower of Manchester United and I don't like FC Barcelona... Yes, it is complicated...
Truth be told, when I left Barcelona almost 3 years ago now (time flies!) I really disliked the city. I found myself in a country (Spain) where the moral is too ... let's call it grey-ish, with a career (IT) underpaid and undervalued, in a region (Catalonia) hated by the other regions of the country. I truly believed the environment was unbearable. I despised it, reason why I chose United as my club, I read only in English, and so on. I just wanted to see Europe, the golden land beyond the northern hills of the country. I wanted to leave.
It wasn't until I landed in Dublin that I started to become aware of the fact that my city, Barcelona, is great. It all started with the people here. If I had to say which nation loves Barcelona the most it wouldn't be Catalonia, but Ireland. I can't say how many people have explained to me how much did they enjoy their trips there, and their future plans to go back. It seems like the whole island has visited it at one time or another!
Honestly, this came as a surprise. Hearing so many good things about your city makes you wonder: maybe I was mistaken. And time always enforces the good memories, so as months went on in Dublin, the memories of Barcelona became more partial, leaning towards the good ones, smoothing the bad ones. From time to time I did the mistake of reading a Spanish newspaper and then the old thoughts (fuck off Spain!) came back, at least for a while.
Then I met Ewa, that polish girl that would become my fiancee, and I still remember her face when I answered to her standard "Where are you from?" with "Barcelona, and you?". I remember when I brought her to Barcelona for the first time, it was like giving the best present in the world to a child. And in that visit I was in places I had never been, and I saw a city I had never seen. A refreshing view of a place I had ignored for so long while living in it.
I don't lie to myself. Barcelona is far from perfect, specially when you compare it with cities like Munich or New York. But I can agree that it is good enough, and that it has its charm. That it may lack some things, important ones, but it has others to compensate. That I've learned to understand it and appreciate it. And that, probably, if I had never left it I would still not see her cuteness. The one it has, even knowing the ugly that comes with it.
So I can only say: I'm from Barcelona. And I'm proud of it!