I remember when I was about to leave for Asia, or for South America, or for Portugal. Each time I left with a backpack that contained a few pieces of clothing, minimal toiletries and something to read. I remember getting off the plane in Bangkok, in Lisbon, in Cartagena, and feeling feather-light, somehow closer to whoever it was I thought I was.
This time is different. I have lived in Barcelona for two and a half years. I have amazing friends here, a job, I got married. Leaving this place is painful, and my conception of myself has changed so much that I am past the point of thinking that going somewhere new will mean anything other than new experiences.
I will miss Barcelona, terribly, but every time I try to list the things I will miss I find myself unable to do so. Perhaps it is because the things I will miss are too numerous, but I also think it misses the point: sometimes when you love a person, or a city, its with an irrational inability to explain why to someone who doesn’t also love them, completely.
When I first came to Barcelona I found a book about Barcelona that compared Barcelona to a beautiful woman. It claimed that at a first glance Barcelona is captivating, almost perfect but that in time you begin to see how caked on her make up is, how stilted her conversation. I’ve always struggled with the idea of using feminine beauty as a short-cut to understanding the universal allure of a thing: it might work for heterosexual men but it falls short for everyone else. Nonetheless the comparison stuck with me, but not because I agreed.
Barcelona is beautiful and it is beautiful in a way that tourists, passing through, can easily appreciate. However, just below the surface there is plenty of dirt, but that is in fact what makes Barcelona enduringly enchanting. The history of the Catalan people’s struggle for some degree of independence from Madrid, the government’s lackadaisical attitude toward promoting real economic growth, the sex trafficking, the very real poverty - these are not things I would want to persist by any means, but which nonetheless flesh out the city and give it a real personality more complex than the one captured in a photograph. It is, like any person you will meet, imperfect despite its best attempts at creating enough artifice to make you think otherwise.
Barcelona, me encantas por siempre. Volveré en octubre por un mes - hasta entonces.
Blurry, happy memories by the ocean, on the edge
Things cost more than you think
We know that an 11 am pickup doesn't mean 11 sharp. This is Spain. Still, we're ready at twenty to.
The owner hadn't been quite honest on AirBNB—there was no wifi. But the apartment had these—and they made our stay.