(JP) Well, today, sitting by a Barcelona port, I realized through various senses that a mission had very much been accomplished. At first, it seemed merely a practical achievement: to have arrived safely in Barcelona, the final stop on a long journey that has felt even longer. To have made it to the water, to this breeze, breathing, in one piece (but not exactly--i'll get to that later), blissful (but not quite--see previous caveat), and watching life be simply, gently rich in its beauty was a zen I had hoped for when Mon and I first booked this journey. But to have attained enough 'far awayness" to learn so much more than just the feeling of completing (almost) an itinerary was the larger goal all along. The greater aim and much more difficult task was to remember serenity again, to see oneself more clearly for having broken with routine. To see what matters most to you, by virtue of encountering varied surroundings, walking through them, letting them be your new reality and thus break the habits of environments' past. Today was the first time I felt certain those larger aims had been achieved. I remembered that our concept of time is only a measure of how near or far we are to the present moment.
For instance, Mon and I have not been the uber-pscyhed (and hella annoying if you ask me) type of travelers on this trip--the ones who get up early, see all the sights, take all the pictures, know all the hotspots. If anything, we have eaten our way through Europe. Like termites. Happy, rolling, termites. If anything, we've gotten up obscenely late in the day, picked a few things we thought might be nice to see, saw them, or maybe not, depending on how long a meal and conversation we ended up having. And yet, with only 'so many hours in a day', my days have never felt longer. Eternally so. Amsterdam feels like 4 months ago. I have to scrunch my brain to remember exactly what we did there (good thing we blogged). In feeling this warped, stretched sense of time I've learned that freedom to make of your present whatever feeling feels right to go with is the easiest way to prove time doesn't really exist. We've been utterly present to our present; each step..and the vacation as a result has been not only true to its travelers, but eternally long as a result. That's money well spent. That's time enough to change.
Eternal time enough to change, however, I also learned is a doubled-edged beast. The other, painful, rendering side of eternal is when I find myself simultaneously and constantly homesick for the one I love, Daniel. Yes, absence makes the heart grow fonder - but I think that line is for those who still have some fond left to find. It's been yet another proof of our limited definitions of time that I can be - in exactly the same moment and body - utterly blissful and utterly incomplete because he's not here to share it. These moments, all of them, couldn't be happier; and always could be. I've been fully present, fully engaged in this experience, and yet also fully present to his absence every step of the way. It's funny how clearly I know now you really can be in dual realities in the same moment. There is no spoon, if you reframe your coordinates.
Enough time to change. That, we discussed over churros this morning too. (Spanish churros are wise and better. You should all know that.) In terms of needing to break from routine, even if the routine is fulfilling, in order to *choose* your routine. So often, we are merely products of habits and schedules repeated. They're good after all, so why should we change them? But that's the danger I had forgotten having been travel-starved for so long.. we must break from routine environments every so often enough to remember to choose them. Not to simply make the best life out of them. We are dealt only a few cards in life; the rest is up to us as far as what we make of them once the dealer calls.
Today, then, also became a lesson on my habits, good and awful. My two closest people - Dan and Monica - occupying my simultaneous realities throughout this trip, helped teach me about the importance of journey to become, really, better at the end of it than you were when you began (note: I also learned this trip that Mon hates the word 'journey'. Aside from Journey the band, which we can all agree is the word's best association). Sitting in the last page of our very long (and detailed!) itinerary today, I can confidently say I've now had a trip that broke me from routine, made me see myself from the outside in, understand what needs to improve, what makes me tick and why, what I have to be grateful for, and what it means to be free enough to go where you choose, when you choose, as you choose, with those who choose you too, and emerge improved. Disassembled. Humbled. Peaceful. Shaken. Enormous. Miniscule. Great. Messy. Tested. Empowered. Enlightened. Wondering. Raw. Protected. Scared. Certain. In Love. Loved.
Those are the real mountains summited. To get there, it included summiting to the very top of the Vatican, overlooking Rome (claustrophobic winding indoor staircases included). So glad Mon urged me to see the inside of the Vatican; it communicates so many more intricacies about faith, praise, the sublime through architecture, and plain ol' organized religious greed/contradiction than I ever would have picked up from viewing the exterior. It's a palace. More than a palace. As well it should be. Or should it?
Rome also included the other must-sees, but more enjoyably included Fabro (short for Fabrizio), who we decided built Rome. He ran our hostel, but he also built Rome in his spare time because Fabro knows every detail there is to know about that 'large village' as he deems it. I would like it very much if Mon ends up with either Fabro himself (he's gotta be like 42 or more) or a soul-twin of sorts, and not just cuz he's a Scorpio. I may have thrown that wish in too at Trevi Fountain. Yay.
Didn't expect to get a pitstop in Ireland while in Rome either - but Scholar's more than brought home the bacon. And Mon's no liar...Romans are just plain beautiful. They glow like J-Lo. The whole olive-toned lot. It's not fair that the rest of us must fall short, but it's nice to know where the bar is now.
Rome also included sleep-shouting, thanks to the German dude who in our 'mixed hostel suite' woke the rest of us up via cardiac arrest by shouting something insane-like in his sleep in the middle of the night. Talking in one's sleep I get. But shouting? In German? Really? At 3am? Really? Creepy AND scary. The only thing that smoothed it out was his immediate coming to after he did it and whispering under his breath 'Oh shit' before hiding back under his sheet (I suppose; it was pitch dark but the sounds suggested embarrassment 101). Awesome. Sad though, in that we only know you as the Shout-Sleeper, as there were never any other conversations to be had. Whatev. We got him back when we had to get up at 530am the next morning to make the hike (yes, hike. in the rain) to San Giovanni metro stop to make our flight.
So it wouldve been fine if Barcelona was just a close second to Italy. That's what I expected anyway. But since touching down yesterday, I've realized that Barcelona is a city of cities, if not the city. Incredible. Dinner to cry for at Picasso's old spot. Again, we remained world champions at eating a restaurant to closing time. And that place was PACKED when we started. It's a skill I tell you. Clubbing til morning courtesy of the single greatest DJ of all time. And I have about as high a standard for DJ's as anyone on the planet. His set was not even funny. His set included every great song after another - including 'I Wish (I Was A Little Bit Taller)', Cece Penniston, Ace of Base, Biggie, disco, Hova... I can't put it into words. Just trust you shouldve been there. And that I want this man to DJ every important (and not important) event I now have in life. And that was just some Tuesday in Barcelona. Jesus.
We're about to find some more floor to dance on. I'm deliriously tired, but I'll sleep in other realities..if he's got room. In the meantime, I say hats off to saving the best city for last. Tomorrow day and night is the final stop before we return stateside. And just as I have learned today through places and people I love that to go far the right way is to go deep within and renew, I thank God for time enough to pull this off, and to put someone better on. Until the next stop. Better even, the next start.
(Oh, and happy birthday Kenny P. aka, Dad. Monica and you continue to share identical taste in music. It's scary, and great.)