On Writing

Transformative Travel: Notes from Barcelona

Dear Travel, please rescue me. Relight, reignite, rekindle a space that feels dead inside. A place absent of warmth. Absent of light.

cafeamericano
Travel, I yearn to be awakened. Transformed. To be summoned from a chaos–at once clattering and silent. A feeling akin to deathliness.

Shouldn’t I be able to shake this feeling on my own? I’m an advocate for “local travel.” Normally, I’m good at discovering wonder everywhere and in the every day. Aren’t I? But, sometimes, I can’t.

This is one of those times.

The absence of mindfulness frightens me.

And so I am here in Barcelona to pierce through it. A lancing.

Travel, I ask you for the reawakening of the senses. The recovery of the ability–the gift even– to see. To describe. To document. To absorb. To create insight for myself and others.

When I sat down at this outdoor café, I didn’t know what I would write, or if I could write.

So much of my writing is done for others. I listen to the stories of others. The needs of others. I write for others.

And I am honored to do this work.

But I need to hear my own voice now.

I once read an essay that called for “creating our own sacred moments.” It said you could create these anywhere, even at a stop light in the space of a few breaths. But that requires remembering to breathe.

croquetasbacalao
Repeatedly, Barcelona presents me with unexpected wonder. The seahorses in the fountain that at first I didn’t see. The discovery of a caga tio–or “shitting log”–Christmas tradition [yes, you read that right]. These were outside of my imagination, but they burst their way in and forced a gasp. A breathing.

Cigarette smoke wafts over to my table. Even though it’s before noon, the waiter offers me alcohol. Already fighting jet lag, I choose a café americano instead. He passes me a menu, translated into five languages. A long list of pinxtos and tapas bewilders me. I choose croquetas de bacalao, or codfish croquettes. Their crispy shell gives way to a steaming, soft interior.

Grey-haired men stride by in pencil-legged dress pants. A petite accordionist plays for us and then holds out a tentative cup. Half of the tourists pretend they don’t see her.

I feel the opening. The stretch. The bend of the mind.

And now I hear the sound of feathers as pigeons take flight from tourist-clogged fountains.



Patricia Erikson blogs about Maine writers, travel, and science from a vibrant, literary community perched on Peaks Island, two miles off the coast of the beautiful and award-winning city of Portland, Maine. If you haven’t already, follow her on Instagram at @seashorewrite or subscribe to Peaks Island Press in the upper right corner at http://www.peaksislandpress.com

2 replies »

  1. Thanks for sharing such a personal interlude…introspection so close with images and sound effects … Gaudí’s work amazed me too

    Like

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