Woke up from last night’s ‘nap’ at 8am. Had horny dreams and woke up humping the mattress, on the top bunk in a dorm full of strangers. Ugh.
Left the hostel at 10am after eating breakfast alone like a big massive fuck off loser because that’s what I am and I am not afraid. I walked to Gothic quarter, saw the cathedral etc, t’was all very pretty. The cathedral had a little courtyard full of geese and fish. I don’t know why. If memory serves, geese can fly, so why don’t they all fly away? I do not know. Maybe they’ve had their wings messed about with. The fish had a distressingly low level of water in their pond, which relegated them to a 2D lifestyle. I felt sorry for them, and the wing-clipped geese.
Oi, monks, sack off all your candle lighting and confessing for one minute and give these fish some more water. Let your geese run free.
Did not much of anything all day but lounge in the sun – still walked at least 15K though in my quest for pretty views and notable architecture. My shoes will be worn through soon. I’ve actually lost weight already, through a mixture of constant rambling and not eating a bean due to a chronic case of moth-wallet.
I found the beach, oh lord, I found the beach. First time I’ve seen a shoreline in as long as I can remember. The sun was out, and I strolled along with a happy beer. I found an outdoor gym, where a gaggle of muscle bound Spaniards were heaving their sinewy bodies away from Earth’s gravitational pull and, I presume, enjoying the momentary escapism it afforded them. Such optimism. Me gusta.
I saw an old man with abs, which wowed me. He was at least sixty five, grey chest hair, with a six pack and cannonball biceps. He was doing these low, uber sexual upward dog press up lunges which, for some reason, I found it hard to look away from. Watching a semi naked human of either gender exercising is strangely hypnotic. There was a girl doing star jumps. Her pony tail twirled in circles as she exercised.
I was gagging for a go at the pull up bar, it’s been months, but sadly I felt as though wandering alone into the midst of the gym, boots on, backpack and polo shirt, would be a little weird even for me. But let me tell you: some of the guys there, despite having a thousand separately bulging abdominal muscles, couldn’t do a pull up for shit.
I found a horizontal patch of earth and rested upon it, drinking my beer and contemplating the sweating bodies being heaved all over the joint before me. Reminded me of my student days, when my friends and I would sit on the roof of the uni bar and laugh at the protein shake wankers buzzing in and out of the gym in caps and shorts and vests and tribal tats, as we drank our eight pint of the afternoon and slowly grew merryfat. I like to keep in shape now, but still, those remain happy days.
I was going to do a walking tour but sacked it off because I felt I’d be better served finding my own way around. I’d already swept across the entire Gothic quarter anyway, and was loathe to see it all again, and at a much more meditative pace at that.
I found a bar in a beautiful little square with pink and yellow trees and a large building of corrugated iron that was rusting elegantly, and I finished my next Kafka tale in the shade under a patio heater. Metamorphosis. That’s certainly what I was aiming for on this trip. Whether or not anything will actually metamorph (metamophosise?) remains to be seen.
The hostel map mentioned some interesting floating egg that was apparently a mesmerising tourist attraction. I circled for about 20 minutes around the city block in which it was supposedly located, and found nothing.
I hung out a while in the town square opposite the cathedral, and watched a busker play lazy trumpet in the slovenly heat. Ate a pork burrito, because I am just the worst fucking vegetarian to ever be smudged upon the earth, and wandered home as evening drew in.
Still nobody in the hostel. Just a school trip full of mid-teens, all mobile phone screens and lackadaisical be-spotted faces.
Spent the evening wandering up that big fuck-off hill to Gràcia, a district supposedly popular with the locals and tourist free, which enticed me. Unfortunately, this description turned out to be 100% true, and I could find nobody to talk to, dammit. Wandered for hours and eventually had a solemn beer in a churchyard square lined with bendy palm trees and stray dogs. Walked home alone, defeated, blue.
I got back to the hostel and there was still nobody in the living room. Figured it’s the low season, but was determined to not be beaten. I put my headphones in and put on the most fuck off, sexy song I could think of. For me it’s always Arctic Monkeys – I’ve always found post break up blues are echoed and mangled and churned around into a sunglass swagger through Al Turner’s trans-Atlantic crooning. Felt better immediately.
I left the hostel, determined to find a party, to find something, someone, this night wasn’t over yet. I was revelling in the music, alone in the dark empty streets but that was a good thing – meant I could sing along, and walk with a rockstar swagger that I’d die if anyone actually saw. Seen Spiderman 3? Yup. I didn’t care, I suddenly felt imbued with a new, defiant sexuality. I am attractive, dammit, and no girl was going to make me feel shit and forlorn and desperate. I’m my own man, I’m better than this. I’ve been happy before and I’ll be happy again. This world is mine for the taking. I’m strong enough. Bring it the fuck on.
Well, it seems the theme of this trip is shaping up to be me making exciting statements and then not doing much. Las Ramblas at midnight looked like it had already peaked and crashed – several times. As I rounded the corner onto the main drag feeling sexy and vibrant and newly powerful, I found a mob of police officers lazily taking notes from a man clutching his blood-burst eyebrow, evidently been nutted somewhere or other, a marvellous first impression.
Further down the strip, prostitutes, everywhere. I didn’t realise at first, and assumed the winks and blown kisses were as a result of my rock ‘n’ roll swaggering, and my ego was bulging and glowing white hot until one of them nonchalantly asked if I fancied a blow job, as though asking if I’d like a serviette with my takeaway. That’s perhaps a little beyond belief, and my imagined reality, in which I was suddenly now a sunburned, pissed up Casanovoa somehow, popped like a balloon drifting too close to a birthday candle.
Five or six solicitations later, and I was heading home, still not entirely despairing, but feeling notably less sexy and great than I had been ten or fifteen minutes ago. So, it was to be another night spent entirely alone. Well , World, good. Fuck you, I wanna be alone, if that’s the case. I felt angry and defiant at the unfair world, and if I was doomed to be alone, then I’d be fucking brilliant at it.
Then, as I neared the hostel, mulling all this over and hating everything, I saw this shop window:
If you can’t read that, it says:
This is the beginning of anything you want.
And with that, suddenly, I realised that it’s okay to be sad. This isn’t the trip I thought it was – I’ve been kidding myself. I am not okay, and that’s okay. I thought this was a holiday but it’s not – it’s a flight from real life. Putting ground between myself and my responsibilities. I’m not ready to be rolling in laughter with new friends, even if there were any here. But despite all that, the sign had got it right – this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It truly is the beginning of a new life. A life without her, a new direction, any direction I choose, infinite possibilities ahead.
That sign came out of nowhere, just as I needed it most. I don’t know whether it’s sheer coincidence, suggestion bias, or a genuine sign that the universe gives a shit. I’ve thought about that a lot. I settled on this:
It’s not the universe, and it’s not a higher power offering me a sign. I spotted that sign and interpreted it in a way that gives me hope, because that’s what I needed. It was me that did that. No sign from God, no celestial intervention, just me. Just Dan. And I realised then that I don’t ever have to feel alone in the world, because there is always someone that cares about me: me. In those times when my mood is lowest, and I gain new strength seemingly from nowhere, I realised that the arm I feel around my shoulder is born straight from the depths of my own consciousness. It’s just me, looking after myself, hugging myself, loving myself, saving myself. And I think there’s the answer to lasting happiness. What more does anyone need?
It’s all you. You’ve got your own back, you won’t ever let yourself down, you have infinite unconditional love and understanding within you. The person that loves you more than anyone else in the world, you carry with you everywhere you go. You can’t ever lose them, and you’re never alone. So smile.