Absolutely nothing around me was familiar as I wondered how it could be that just days ago I was standing in my kitchen moving through the drudgery of preparing the evening meal for my family. The daily grind, nothing alarming, but seriously boring, was now consigned to another place and time. For now, my feet seemed to move more easily than usual and I wondered at the freedom that travel to this place had brought to me.
At the doorway Cara, my daughter, hesitates, not sure if the eatery would suit me. Any place where I don’t have to cook and clean up qualifies as perfect! Kevin, now keenly embracing this new experience, pushes past Cara to the interior of the cafe and proceeds to strike up a conversation with the bewildered Spanish barman. Looking up, he greets us with a smile and welcome “Hola”, before slipping easily into English, at once making us feel at ease.
We sit near the window, Cara and I, sipping our sangrias while waiting for my husband James to emerge from the Church that sits inside this magical Plaza. Kevin continues to chatter to the barman, making himself at home on the barstool. He’s discovering that conversation comes easily in this exotic place.
The minutes turn into hours and the Sangria flows freely. Every now and then I wonder how it is that I’m here, living in this moment and drinking Sangria as if it were water. Where is the responsible middle-aged woman I am, where did she go? James has joined us, food has been ordered and consumed and dusk has given way to the night. Around us, the bars and cafes have filled with noisy groups enjoying life. I get the idea that this is not a unique experience for these Catalans. I envy them this place, this way of life.
I’m aware that the hour has turned very late, and that I have not stayed out as late since I was a woman without responsibilities - that time BC (before children). We wander now through the maze of cobbled streets, vaguely aiming for Las Ramblas and our temporary accommodation.
Music wafts out from late-night bars and since my inhibitions are already dulled by the many Sangria we have enjoyed, I declare we should investigate each and every source of music. The journey to our lodgings becomes very slow as we variously find ourselves in small bars tucked down unassuming laneways. I’m tipsy and giggling and laughing like a young girl. James too is in high spirits and we find everything funny. A window display of toilet paper takes on an energy of its own. Official looking guards monitoring the comings and goings of a function that looks like something serious could be happening attract our mirth. Our hearts are light as we wander about this fabulous place.
A song comes on the stereo and my memories return …
And you and I we're flying on an aeroplane tonight
We're going somewhere where the sun is shining bright
Just close your eyes
And let's pretend we're dancing in the street