It’s my last day here, and torn between my sadness to leave and the happy knowledge that I am ready to move on from this beautiful city plagued with the cognitive dissonance of needing tourism but hating tourists, I decided to do something special. I decided to allow myself a sense of perspective. Literally. And so I climbed all the way to the Tibidabo, the mysterious church that looks down on Barcelona from a mountain top and is lit up at night. The trip involves a special train, a steep trek up a street full of very posh villas, then a cable car ride of sorts. It’s a bit cumbersome, and so I hadn’t gone there in the last ten years. It’s worth it, though, if you want to see all of Barcelona. You can even, with a little luck, catch a glimpse of Frank Gehry’s fish. Also, there’s a vintage amusement park up on the mountain, and the air is very fresh. It’s a nice place to spend an afternoon, and a nice place to say goodbye. A nice place, too, to take stock, file a few things away, and get ready for new adventures.
Meanwhile, for even more of a sense of perspective, check out the lovely pictures my friend at Amsterdamian took of me while I was visiting. She can work magic with her camera! It’s funny what she drew out of me. The best was that she showed me some wonderful places that really put me in a good mood. It was, perhaps, the best day of my trip so far! It is a good reminder, that while Barcelona is lovely, life is at its sunniest when creative minds use their skills to perform acts of magic.
The old friend I met for lunch today said it was officially the first day of summer. I felt it too. Something in the air, beyond the scent of linden blossoms or the ease of wearing a sundress. There was suddenly a certain freedom to just walking around, a certain lightness to everything. It’s like the sunshine has infiltrated even the darkest corners of the Gothic Quarter, has hidden unicorns among the gargoyles, and healed the tallest palm tree in the city – safeguarded in an ancient courtyard, and propped up by a metal corset – of its many ailments. Much as I sometimes see it as a city of perpetually closed doors, Barcelona, especially in the summer, tends to be easy, free floating. It invites you to shed all kinds of layers, to take things lightly, to just be. Perhaps it’s not my forte, but sometimes even I can do that.
I got here late last night, too late to even blog. My jet lag is still with me and it’s brutal this time around. I’m in a state of perpetual exhaustion that makes me question everything. Even my desire to come back so often to this city I love so much. There are, after all, many other places out there, places I’ve never seen, places I might never see if I don’t make more of an effort. It occurred to me late last night, while I was trying to fall asleep, that it’s been ten years since I tried living here and found that, for all its undeniable beauty and mystery, the city only offered me fleeting glimpses of happiness. It was a bit like a relationship between two people who have great chemistry and mutual affection, two people who care about each other deeply, make each other laugh, and yet, something is off and happiness eludes them. Sometimes these things are hard to understand. Still, after a decade, is it perhaps time to let go and move on? The weird thing is that I feel that I have. Unbeknownst to me, my attachment to Barcelona has loosened. I no longer find myself sad that I don’t live here, no longer find myself concocting plans to stay forever. Maybe I’m even ready to face the possibility that it might be unnecessary to visit a lot. Perhaps I need to see all this as progress. After all, I might have a terrible track record of holding on too long, but occasionally I prove to myself that I can also let go.
Few things are as comforting as knowing that after a long flight a friend will be waiting with coffee (and a big yellow cat).
I’m about to board my flight. And happy the adventure has started. As a good omen, the paintings I made last night were bought this morning by a very special collector.
Today I took the dog to Galveston to board her at the vet. She pushed me with her stubborn little head to get out of the car when we got there. She pulled on the leash to get in. That made me feel better. She loves it there. Still, missing a dog is very deep and very physical. It’s like missing a limb. You want to touch it and it’s not there. I realized I’ll miss John and Ryan’s dogs the same way. Nancy, especially, with her silky fur. Nancy, who will will get her snout close to your face but who will never kiss.
After dropping off the dog I had lunch with a friend at Maceo’s. Ronnie treated me to a delicious shrimp sandwich on a croissant and I had cannoli too. Ronnie is going to Palermo this summer. I think that’s exciting. I love Palermo. And I love Ronnie.
Then we went up to the rooftop terrace of the Tremont House. Also to Tangerine for a new dress.
Then I drove back to Houston. My friend met me at the studio. I left my keys with her. I hope she’ll paint a lot while I am gone.
And then, finally, I went to my Escapist studio. I painted with my Escapist sisters. We hugged and we said our goodbyes. We’ll miss each other. But we’re also excited because we’re all bound to have exciting adventures while we’re apart.
When I got home I checked in for my flight and charged my European phone. I miss my dog.