It’s been five days since I arrived in Barcelona, Spain. I’m sitting about 100 meters from the Mediterranean in a rented apartment I found through airbnb.com. If I crane my head really hard and lean out really far, I can just barely catch a glimpse of sapphire blue winking in the sun between centuries old buildings and modern-day satellites.
It’s a cozy little place reminiscent of my own (although mine doesn’t require a climb up eight flights of stairs) and comes with a cat similar to mine. Vocal and demanding, Tina Turner doesn’t take no when it comes to her demands for affection. My host is in Germany at the moment so Tina and I have the place to myself for a few days. It’s a welcome relief to get away from the eight-bed hostel dorm rooms I’ve stayed in since last Wednesday.
I’ve been avoiding writing this post. My last journey was easy to talk about; there was so much to share and the words came easily. This time the purpose behind sharing this story is much different. My family is joining me tomorrow. My dad wanted to see Barcelona one last time before dementia robs him of his cognizance.
When I was almost three years old, we moved to Barcelona from Campinas, Brazil. I have only a couple fuzzy memories of Brazil. On the other hand, I have distinct memories of Barcelona, even if they resemble polaroids instead of videos. My strongest memories are of the beach and the cockles (tiny shellfish resembling clams) cooked in butter that my family and I used to eat by the pound. Seeing Barcelona has been on my bucket list for quite some time.
About four weeks ago Dad called me in the middle of the day and said, “I’m going to Barcelona in May. Can you go?” It was terrible timing, I wasn’t ready, and in my mind I’d been thinking late summer would be better. But I had to hand it to him: instead of wallowing in despair he’s been actively tackling his bucket list. When I asked if he was definitely going in May and couldn’t wait a month or two, he replied definitively, “Nope. I’m going in May. Can you come?”
So here we are, about to revisit some of the places we haven’t seen in 26 years over the next week and a half. Dad and I will have four days on our own when my stepmom, Thelma, goes to Madrid. It will be the most time we’ve spent alone together since….well, I don’t know when.
I considered not writing about this trip at all. I’m a master at avoiding vulnerability, true vulnerability, and the thought of sharing this experience makes me queasy. It might even be that I change my mind halfway through and decide to keep this to myself, or that I’m still writing about the experience long after I’ve returned. But for now, my intention is to share something which I hope will have a greater point in the end.