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The Leaving Journal


SPAIN | Tuesday, 29 October 2013 | Views [573]

"Oh, I knew I was making my life into a song-and-dance routine, a production number, a shaggy dog story, a sick joke, a bit. I thought of all the longing, the pain, the letters (sent and unsent), the crying jags, the telephone monologues, the suffering, the rationalizing, the analyzing which had gone into each of these relationships, each of these relationdinghies, each of these relationliners. I knew that the way I described them was a betrayal of their complexity, their humanity, their confusion. Life has no plot. It is far more interesting than anything you can say about it because language, by its very nature, orders things and life really has no order. Even those writers who respect the beautiful anarchy of life and try to get it all into their books, wind up making it seem much more ordered than it ever was and do not, finally, tell the truth. Because no writer can ever tell the truth about life, namely that it is much more interesting than any book. And no writer can tell the truth about people -- which is that they are much more interesting than any characters."

-Erica Jung, Fear of Flying


I was fitful over my appearance. I borrowed a bag from Jennifer so I wouldn't have to carry around my tourist backpack. I turned around in the mirror, left then right, glancing over my shoulder. I Skyped with my parents, coiffing my hair in the webcam image of myself, blabbering about my nerves. It feels like the first day of school circa 2012.

A catalyst in my personal life caused me to plant myself at an Internet cafe last week and commit a few grueling hours of internet research to finding friends. There is a natural solitude to traveling alone and I am most often content with this solitude. Most of my friends consider me the epitome of a social extravert, but in truth I have been quite happy these past months: reading voraciously, exploring and experiencing and watching the world go by free from the demands of any relationship, friendly or otherwise. But there is also a part of me that avoids social interaction, especially in travel, because it requires a distinct level of vulnerability that makes me uncomfortable. By seeking out friendship and company, you expose a need, a missing part of yourself. Exposing a need leaves you open to rejection. Ah, the human condition. 

So I swallowed my pride, created a profile on meetup.com (platonic match.com) and made plans to meet some folks at a bar to watch El Classico, the Barcelona versus Madrid soccer match. I walked in and made a b-line for the watering hole in pursuit of some liquid courage, which (unfortunately) came in the shape of an over-priced Heneiken. Albert noticed me at the bar and introduced himself. He is the group's organizer - a short, middle-aged Spanish man with a wonderful sense of humor and a passion for his Barcelona fandom. He was accompanied by Amy, a smart, curly-haired, British nursery school teacher who has lived in Sitges for 3 years, and Salut, a quiet Catalan woman with deep-set eyes. As the game progressed, several people joined us, including a beautiful, young family with a precious daughter and an Irish carpenter named Jaime. After the game, we walked to a popular local tapas bar, El Cable, where I gorged myself on patatas bravas and lots of pinchos (small, two-bite tapas: basically anything toothpicked to a piece of french bread). We were standing in the street balancing our plates on large Sangria glasses when Albert asked me what I liked most about Sitges. 

"Me gusta las tapas... y la playa," I responded simply. I glanced up at him from my plate of food and after a pause added, "Mucho."

This pathetic sentence invoked a roar of laughter from the group and adding "mucho" to everything became an on-going joke for the rest of the night. Mas cerveza. Mucho! Vamos a bailar. Mucho! Como se dice? MUCHO!

Now deeply bonded by booze and linguistic errors, we traipsed our way to "Sin Street" and I danced in a way that remembering it causes me to laugh out loud. The rest of the night is flashes of the nineties pop songs of my childhood (Spain is a decade or so behind in musical pop culture), a pair of gargantuan, neon, plastic sunglasses, a Spanish conversation about male and female trout (la trucha? el trucho? mucho?!) and two French bulldogs that I kept insisting "mira como cerdos!" (A grammatically butchered attempt to tell their owner "they look like pigs" which was intended as a compliment but probably not received that way). There might have been a movie-worthy beach walk beneath la luna y las estrellas in the wee hours of the morning, too, but memory fails me...

I woke up with a head ache, sand in my sheets and a single text message:

"Como se dice la trucha al trucho?" 

To which I responded,

"Me gusta... MUCHO!"

Tags: drinking, friends, friendship, language, social, spain, spanish, travel



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