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The Leaving Journal

La Libertad

SPAIN | Friday, 11 October 2013 | Views [397]

The sea spreads wide as I walk down the alley way, a small sliver of blue growing before me in all its dark and rumbling majesty. Deep navy clouds loom on the horizon and the threatening wind whips my hair around my face. I am encased with the muted quiet of a Spanish morning; at an hour when most of the world is up and running, loud and aggressive and unrested, Sitges is still sleeping. I love the sea most at this time, when the growling and unfriendly weather has chased off the beach's false lovers and the sun worshippers have taken fearful shelter in their hovels. Only the honest few are left on the coast, enjoying the solitude, undeterred by the ocean's moodiness. She is a volatile woman, plentiful and jovial when she is so inclined, but easily stirred to merciless anger. I love her not in spite of her fury, but because of it. 

As I approach the stone promenade of the coast, I am struck with a feeling that has permeated my travels thus far: indecision. It is not overwhelming or acute, just a small inkling of insecurity from conditioned years of being responsible, scheduled, expected... needed and pulled upon by people and the world and my life. True freedom is more difficult to adjust to than I had expected - perhaps I hadn't even known the sensation before now. I am struck at odd times like when I reached the promenade. I could go left or right, I could walk down the coast or on the streets, I could sit in a cafe for hours watching people go by if it pleased me. I could hop on a train and go to Barcelona, or take a ferry to Ibiza, or a plane to Rome (all easily and cheaply). Or I could just stand there on the promenade and not do anything, watching the wind crash against the rocks and marveling at the magnificence of boundless freedom. 

I find it a bit sad how foreign this sensation is to me. I am almost fearful or reluctant to act because of it's strangeness... it leaves me a bit paralyzed when the options are so vast and endless. I sense a self-inflicted pressure to experience all of this fully and correctly, which is all an illusion, as there is no right or wrong choice. It's a beautiful thing... but confusing. 

This level of freedom comes at the price of an occasional pang of loneliness - I miss cooking breakfast with my old boyfriend, eating dinner with my parents, talking on the phone with my best friend, having a beer with my brother, holding my warm, heavy niece - but I believe it's a small price to pay, because that homesickness could be assuaged if I wanted. That is always one of my options, as well: to go home. And it occurs to me that maybe this feeling isn't restricted to the road; maybe it's simply a lifestyle that I need to pursue actively, at home and in travel: aloneness. Frances Mayes captured it well in a quote I have loved for years:

"Travel releases spontaneity. You become a godlike creature full or choice, free to visit the stately pleasure domes, make love in the morning, sketch a bell tower, read a history of Byzantium, stare for one hour at the face of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Madonna dei fusi.' You open, as in childhood, and--for a time--receive this world. There's visceral aspect, too--the huntress who is free. Free to go, free to return home bringing memories to lay on the hearth." - Frances Mayes

From the moment all of this started to take shape, I was confident it was something to be done alone. There was never any question of that element of my travels; though I couldn't exactly pinpoint why that was necessary before I left. Now I realize the solitary aspect of this journey has made it transformative. It was easily the best decision I've ever made. 

Tags: beach, freedom, ocean, sea, seaside, solitude, spain, travel, travel alone

 

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