My trip to Barcelona was a test of sorts, my first time traveling alone… in a foreign country, speaking a different language. Leaving from London Stanstead, I walked outside onto the rain-soaked tarmac (a black and glossy sign of the British summer) to fly away and be alone. I was not sure what I might prove to myself, or disprove, or even approve.
Under the sun where no one seems to speak my language; alone, with my thoughts and my shadow.
What I ended up finding was concrete reality as some kind of theater prop. An amazing opportunity to act on the stage of life. I met many interesting people, spent a week speaking Spanish, and learning Catalan- I survived… on my own. For the first time in my life there was no safety net, no one or nothing to catch me if I should falter… I stood for the first time on the edge of life and looked out into its sprawling vastness. I have never experienced such times of emotional purity- moments to myself where I could laugh, and cry, and be surprised, and amazed…
During my trip I stumbled across the Jewish quarter of the city, old building facades and dig site at a Roman synagogue- testaments to the 4,000 Jews remaining in the city.
I visited the Picasso museum and the temporary exhibition of Lee Miller photographs… Amongst the photographs of Pablo Picasso, her husband Roland Penrose, Miró, and Tapies hung a fews photographs that Miller captured when she teamed up with Time Life photographer David E. Scherman and was there for the liberation of the Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps.
It was hard to suppress the teary eyes and lump in my throat, as I looked at her camera, and her photograph of a pile of bodies at Buchenwald… and I realized that it was only 65 years ago (not even a full lifetime) that people like myself were forced to stare face to face with death, and not for anything of choice, but because of their blood. I stared into the scratched lens of Miller’s Rollei and thought about everything it had seen, all of the images reflected through it, upside-down in the ground glass.
Bacrelona is an incredibly eclectic and diverse city- geographically, architecturally, and culturally. I fell in love with the city as I explored the back alleys and public markets, shared conversations and laughs with locals…..
On Monday, my last night in the city, I went out to the Sants street fair with a Calgary Canadian named Josh… I made the most of my last night, partying in the streets with the locals until the festivals end. I had some great conversation with a charming woman who must have been in her sixties, she had a youthful vigour- and we laughed as we shouted at the lip-locked couples “Quitélo”… “Ven a su cama”
She asked me in Spanish, “Why don’t you go dance?” I replied, “Porque, no tengo alguien a bailar conmigo” (I have no one to dance with)… “Why don’t you dance by yourself?” she asked.
I pointed to the kissing couple and in my best Spanish said, “I could dance by myself, but it is difficult to kiss by myself” She laughed, and took this as a challange, pulling over all of the girls she knew from the neighborhood, giving each one a turn to dance with me. Everyone laughed and drank and smiled and danced until the early morning.
Una canción sin palabras, una noche sin preocupes