Barcelona, the Beginning & the End

There was a major convention in Barcelona the night we arrived. My Australian travel agent had talked me out of booking accommodation; he assured me it was ‘the slow season’. I thought that was bad advice, but assertiveness is not my strong suit. So we drove around and around with an unoptimistic cabbie, running into hotel lobbies to check availability, and jogging back to the cab to his “I told you”. The suggestion we sleep outside the train station with the rest of the homeless people became a growing consensus. My boyfriend was on a slow boil on the seat next to me, glancing out the window, face twitching when another hotel clerk told us the hotel–no, the city–was full. The next day we’d take a train and a bus to the seaside resort of Cadaqués, to visit the museum in Salvadore Dalí’s old house. It could have been peaceful: the breezy hotel balcony, the aqua water, sangria and sunshine, the engaging eccentricity of Dalí…It was OK in parts. But the well-heeled tourists with white sweaters knotted around their necks–the yachting crowd–my boyfriend didn’t like the way they looked at him. He didn’t like the way they rapped on the door when he was using the public restrooms. So we took a white-knuckled, teeth-grinding train ride back to Barcelona where I finally cracked, and stood screaming like a horror movie heroine under a flight of cement stairs somewhere in the middle of the city, until a woman and her daughter wandered up and kept watch over me. I stopped wailing, and just cried. That first night: we did sleep outside the train station, sitting up with our backs to the wall and our giant backpacks. There was no more ‘time of our lives’ true love chemistry. It was pretend. And it was gone. Although it would be years before I would accept that. He leaned against his pack to my left and fell asleep with his chin on his chest. To my right, a young mother, clearly on heroin, vague and dreamy and worn-out pretty, with her tiny toddler daughter asleep on her legs, leaned her head on my shoulder. She fell asleep like that. And I let her. It was comforting being a comfort to someone, even though she was maybe too out-of-it to register it. Tomorrow, I won’t be homeless anymore, but they probably will be. This was something I could do. Just one small, evaporating thing, that expired when the sun came up and she lifted her head, blinked, frowned.

Published by msdeer

I am an interdisciplinary artist, slightly incognito here.

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