You were my ‘first’ after my breakup. I met you when my heart was still sore and my life was up in the air. In the run up to our dalliance, I felt numb, indifferent, cold. Everyone told me I’d fall in love with you – your arty ways, your delicious food, your devil-may-care attitude – and that you were just what I was looking for. I wondered if meeting you at this point in my life was a massive mistake. I wondered if I would do our time together justice. I wondered if I should cancel and come see you another time.
Thankfully, I boarded the plane.
I instantly found you irresistible. You had me, quite frankly, at “Hola!” Even the dark, heavy clouds that pressed down on us the first day I was with you couldn’t dampen my mood. I was there, and I was going to make the most of it. You kept me distracted. You kept my mind busy. You made me marvel at your genius and quirky ways. You made me start to feel again.
Thanks to the unexpected rainfall, the beachfront was deserted on that first day. And for this I was grateful; I wanted to get to know you a bit better away from the pressure of the crowds and without running from one place to the next. We sat at a nondescript bar that faced the sea and chugged glass after glass of sangria while I enjoyed the contrast between the oppressive, grey sky and the teal sea. I closed my eyes and allowed the sound of the waves gently lapping at the shore wash over me, hoping it would clear away my thoughts. The drink numbed me, and the sight of you, all rugged around the edges, made me start to come back to life. You smelled of dawn, youth and promise. And weed.
My resuscitation was complete by the second day from the moment I laid eyes on La Sagrada Familia. Some would call this the very heart of you, but I’d call it your soul. Outside I marvelled at the towers that soared into the brilliantly-bright August sky. But the goosebumps? Those came when I entered the building; the rainbow of colours that fell upon the walls, the way the columns reached up to the ceiling like massive tree trunks in a mystical forest, the artistic detail that seemed to be part of every nook and cranny. That someone could create something so beautiful, awe-inspiring, and timeless made me happy to be alive.
The emotions grew, day by day. Sometimes you frustrated me; the ever-rising heat, the scores of holidaying families with their screaming children, the street vendors repeatedly asking ‘beer?’ ‘marijuana?’ ‘cocaine?’ But this was a small price to pay. I was totally in the grip of you and I realised: I had fallen for you.
I was caught in a whirlwind of Gaudí, Picasso and Tàpies. History spoke to me from every building. As I wandered the Gothic Quarter, I was happy to get lost; here I was, fully present, in a place that echoed memories from your past.
I feasted on three-course dinners washed down with Cava. I indulged in plates of paella, patatas bravas, and all the seafood I could get my teeth into it. When a waiter tried to flirt with me you smiled. It was all part of your plan, it seems, to keep me looking forward.
We walked through Gracia during the Festa Major de Gracia, marvelling at the street decorations while drinking mojitos. We sat and listened to bands play Catalan music under the clear August sky, a colourful medley of tapas on the table before us.
It was Casa Battló, though, that sealed our fate. We walked round, twirling in wonder at the colours and shapes and quirkiness. While I marvelled at the beautiful peculiarity of the building, I knew that you and I would just be a fling. As much as I told myself I could pack all five of my belongings and come and live there forever with you, I knew it wouldn’t last. You were like a kiss stolen during a short-lived summer romance; quick, intense and never meant to last forever.
I’m no match for your youthfulness and playfulness. If I’d met you when I was 24, I would have stayed with you forever. What you need, though, is someone equally as wild to run free with. But you’ll always hold a special place within me, Barcelona. You taught me to laugh again. You taught me not to take myself so seriously. You taught me to live in the moment. You reminded me what it feels like to be utterly drunk in lust.
Thank you for reviving me. Thank you for showing me that life goes on. Thank you for making me fall in love with the world again. Thanks to you, I feel like myself once more.
I look forward to our next drunkard whirl around Barceloneta.
Have you ever been to Barcelona before? What did you think?