Chapter 25: The Leaving Of It All

Uncle Jimmy!

I’m very sad. It’s time to leave my home again. Barcelona. My three months here are officially up and I must exit in order to stay legal. Because I want to come back, very much, and it wouldn’t do to run afoul of the authorities.

So … how do I even try to recap this part of the trip? Besides remembering that I drank way too much beer. Strangely, I think it all comes down to those Castellers I told you about. That group that builds human towers, many tiers high up into the air? There is a real lesson to be learned from taking all sorts of people, in all sizes and shapes, and just keep stacking away at something enjoyable. Failing as often as you succeed. Laughing the whole time.

That’s my return to Barcelona in a nutshell. Things worked, things didn’t. I was surrounded by cultures and languages, and just kept at something I loved doing. With a huge smile.

Even the pickpockets that tried to change my mindset have been banished back where they belong. That first month when they tried to get me, I was fairly traumatized. Almost wanted to leave this city behind. But then I decided that they couldn’t be allowed to alter me or my life. So I bought a thin, belted pack to wear just under my shirt. To carry everything I wanted to keep. And viola, they couldn’t get me. Just a simple change. Again, it seems like a pretty important lesson. To be flexible and not quit as soon as shit hits your fan.

I like to think that you would have told me that. Although I’m sure it would have been more like “screw them, don’t let the assholes win”. You always cut right to the chase. 🙂

OK, what else have I learned that I want to share? Perhaps it’s that this trip showed me how I still don’t really understand friendships. I guess somehow I always felt that once made, they are somehow eternal. Well, two years passing has altered me, and also those I left behind. Yes, it was great to be with many of them again, but it was very different as well. As it should be, I know. I guess I need to ponder a little more about how I view relationships, what I need to put into them, and what I should honestly expect as time rolls on. You know, that simple shit that we are supposed to learn in kindergarten, that I seem to be struggling to understand. 🙂

I will always keep traveling, which means that I will always be leaving someone behind. At least until I loop back around again. Which means that I need to do more than always looking forward, rarely glancing back. I need to work hard to keep friendships alive and fresh in the here and now. Regardless of where I physically find myself.

Damn, I’m being all self-critical and introspective today, ain’t I?

OK, what did I truly love? Walking. Eating. All of the narrow streets and alleyways. So much to see and do in every direction. The closeness of the people and the international flavor of the city. And that beer I mentioned earlier.

But I think one of the absolute highlights has to have been the camels in the desert. I know it was a tourist thing. Granted one that was a little more out there compared to a tour bus in Disneyland. But still, being in the middle of the Sahara Desert, surrounded by huge sand dunes, on a camel? Regardless of how it happened, it did happen. That perfect light, the constant wind, the silence. It was beyond incredible. Otherworldly is a better description. A memory I will always have.

What surprised me? Strangely, the fact that I don’t really yearn for Florida at all. At least not the Florida I left. That simple life in Key Largo, being in paradise on the water? I loved it, but really have no burning desire to return to what I left. It feels like that was some great adventure that was had, was filed away, and now doesn’t need to be repeated. Not in the same way, at least. Miami as well. And that is indeed an unexpected and mind-boggling surprise. The notion that I’m not terribly looking forward to even be returning and reopening my old life is a thought I absolutely have no idea what to do with.

But, all that aside, it’s the leaving of this great city that I need to talk with you about. As many words as I’ve thrown at you these past three months, I’m still struggling to explain what this place does to me. When I stand anywhere here, I feel like I’m exactly where I belong. Home isn’t the right word. But it’s close. Barcelona just feels right. In every way.

I did have that feeling once for Miami, and maybe still do. In the city, at least. Suburbs, really not so much. But here in BCN, it’s an always thing. I can so easily envision living in this place. Using the city as a hub to travel far and wide. Every location I currently desire to explore is so perfectly accessible. And when coming back, I would still have so much undiscovered.

There have only been a handful of places that have captured my soul. Miami and Cordoba to name two. But Barcelona has never been booted from the top of that list. I must come back, and for more than three months. Staying away is simply not an option.

So, what’s next up? Well, I’m not crossing the Atlantic quite yet. Not for a few more weeks at least. I’m heading to the UK first. Glasgow, Scotland to be specific. Nikki and I have not yet been to that country and we’re dying to see the Highlands. And after that, a wee bit of London, England.

So, when next I write, I’ll use a heavy Scottish brogue so you can barely understand me. (Insert bad joke here about Freedom!). And I’ll also be completely over having green peas in every dish.

I think I’ve got one more letter in me whilst I’m traveling the island. We need to wrap some things up, don’t we? So settle in and watch your mailbox. But for now, this is sadly the last time I post from my Barcelona.

This year, at least. 🙂

Love, Rick

PS: Sorry, can’t resist …

Run, and you’ll live… at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin’ to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take … OUR FREEDOM!

– William “Mel Gibson” Wallace

LETTERS TO A DEAD UNCLE

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