December 28, 2016
We missed Paris, but we saw Barcelona. Well, we didn’t see much of Paris, arriving late in the evening, just enough time to grab a bite and walk the edges of the Latin Quarter a mite. But Barcelona, we saw its night and day. And though we opted out of the nightlife bar scene, we did tour el centro de la ciudad, walked a good swath of the city from Barcelona cathedral to Sangria de familia cathedral, and spent hours admiring Picasso’s seemingly endless transformational creativity at el museo de Picasso.
We rest heavily, sinking into the cushions of our bullet train seats to nap, write, tune out and glance out the window to see the pastels of fading light cast over the Pyrenees. Over eating, over walking and over sightseeing depletes us like the satiety of a sumptuous meal oh too much. We smile in our pain. That sums up the entire trip so far for me.
It occurred to me upon taking a certain step down an unknown curb on a forgotten street in the center of a city recently eye-soaked that there’s nothing wrong with me. It’s my life. Had I encountered half the snafu’s we did on this trip back home, my blood pressure would have ripped my skull open in a gusher of anger and frustration. I’m thin triggered. Not always, but too often. And nothing truly ruffled me this trip, despite jet lag, sleeplessness, homelessness and digestion disasters.
Maybe I’m finally there–finally. I’ve reached the center of where it’s at and glimpsed what it could be.
The year wanes, eroded like my patience today. How many times can you be reminded to take your passport, tag your bags, get to the train station on time, get up by 8 or you’ll miss all to see in the city and eat your spinach, all in three waking hours?
Yes, she means well. She needs antidepressants. Or I do. Life gives us both anxiety, but she panics unceasingly whereas I do less often. Her fear outpaces mine by leagues. “Can we breathe more in 2017?” I asked her son that moments ago.
The daughters plugged in and tuned out almost immediately upon finding our seats, an ordeal of considerable magnitude as we had to walk over the seatless encampment of refugees between cars, the one we circled going up and down levels, forward and back aisles, squeezing through the narrow corridors of human passage to find our way through the maze.
How hard could it be? Cabin number and seat number. It took ten minutes of mind boggling math and engineering to finally land at the last quad of seats in back of coche 15.
A child’s English words catch my attention. The adults respond in French. Flocks of birds circle sporadic homes peppering the rural landscape whizzing by. The TGV doesn’t bullet the way it usually does, like when we flashed by kilometers from Paris to Narbonne 15 years ago. Perhaps after our stop in Perpignan, the train will pick up speed, dashing us to Barcelona.