Skip to main content

One year in Barcelona

I wish I could type this with a lovely alcoholic drink as my only company down this nostalgic, sad and bittersweet memory lane through my year in Barcelona. But that would be sort of nasty to the little life growing inside me. Even though he's kind of nasty to me, kicking and shuffling around in there, giving me heartburn and involuntary gas outbreaks, sleepless nights and big pain in my back.
But that's part of becoming a mother- learning unconditional love, sacrifice and more unconditional love.
I gave up this apartment in Decemeber 2012, with the help of the partner-in-crime of the one in the belly. We moved it all out, sold some of it, gave some away, and put some in storage. If you are ever interested in how you move in Barcelona, you can have a look at my Tidningen RES-blog here.
If I could have any alcoholic drink right now, it would be a Campari and soda. The soda would be from the classic and beautiful oh-so-Barcelona soda-bottle. Picture further down. They are sold here in Ibiza as expensive vintage second hand items. In Barcelona you get them for 80 cents in the old bodegas, and you're supposed to bring them back to get them re-filled. I would sit on top of my washing machine which sat crammed into a corner in front of the gas-thing and next to the toilet, all situated on the former balcony. I guess before there was a mini-toliet/shower there, it was a balcony and just a balcony, and the toilet was on the back yard of the four-storey-building, more than 150 years old. 
This is one of Gaudi's famous architectural creations. Before moving here I thought this would be such an inspirational sight. I thought I'd fall in love with Gaudi's stuff. But I didn't. I was a bit disappointed. With Gaudi or with myself, I never found out.
There were other things I feel in love with though, very unexpectedly. This, for example: Bicing. Such an amazing wonderful thing. You go through the tedious process of getting a NIE (national identity number) and a bank account, and then you register online for the price of €35, and within 10 days you have a Bicing-card. Bicing has stations all over the city and the bikes are serviced a lot, meaning they are almost always working perfectly. The stations are open most of the week, except after 12 at night until 5 am on weekdays and sundays. Don't ask me why... But the rest of the times of the week one can enjoy airy fairy rides through the mystical laundry-dotted lanes of Barcelona, on sidewalks pretending to not see the police waving and screaming at you, or through parks and along the beachfront.
You can drink a lot of cava in the city of Barcelona. Cava is cheap and a local product which the people here are very proud of. It's tasty, it's cheap and it's.... VERY dangerous. It has indeed produced one or two projectile-vomiting-sessions. And also a lot of nice bubbly tipsy moments.
This is me, by the way.
This man dances in the touristy Flamenco-show in Plaza Real in the barrio Gótico. I don't care that it's touristy. It was one of the most spectacular, emotional, heart-pumping, blood-flowing dance shows I have ever witnessed in my whole life.
This is two of the friends I made in my year i Barcelona. Tine from Germany and Emma fron Sweden. They both brought me much fun, laughter, support and love and I am so grateful that they are in my life. Here they are looking cool and posing in the Placa de Sants metro station, kind of hiding how incredibly drunk they actually are. We had consumed about three bottles each of white wine and cava, and only ate one plate (together) of nice tapas (olives, cured jamon, serrano queso)
                               
Me and Tine made wednesday evenings, after her guitar class, our meeting night. Beer in a bar or wine in my place. A lot of talking and smoking.
         This is the view in December from the top of Parque Guell, another Gaudi-disappointment. I still came here a lot, the reason being 1. showing it to visitors and 2. taking my dog here for forest walks. This particular December sunset was enjoyed together with my most incredibly beautiful soulfriend Elin, who came for a few days to visit me and heal me and herself.
This is the Flamenco dancing God again. I went together with Elin to watch him. We both had the same bloodrushing experience watching him perform from the depths of his soul.
Another Gaudi disappointing view. I guess I did kind of sort of like it somehow in the end, once I got over my attachment to the inspiration I expected to feel. Once I let go of the expectations I inspired myself to attach to Barcelona, I did like it. I didn't fall in love with it and wanted to hook up with it for the rest of my life, as I had imagined to feel. But in the end, I did like it. Yes. I did. It was a sad year, somehow. For many reasons. It was lonely, it was cold in the 150-year-old apartment, I had a hard time connecting with myself and finding a job, I had a hard time connecting through my heart to the city, and I had a hard time connecting to the one I love. I distanced myself inside a not-so-big city. Not big enough to be swallowed by, anyway. Just small enough to realize my degree of loneliness. The sad part was that I created it myself. I drank too much to swallow the pain of my own behavior and I was hiding behind layers of protection.
This dancing flaming Flamenco soul woke me up and Elin was there to catch me when I fell. I fell into her therapeutic soul and I admitted how sad and alone I was. I let my walls fall down and I cried hot flaming tears.
The iron curtain had been rolled up. It was a breakthrough. To admit that I really had dreamed of doing this but that I had ended up alone, isolated, disappointed. Not just disappointed with Gaudi but mostly disappointed with my own inability to open up and connect with the reality found directly around me. I had realized a dream, I had made so much of it happen, and still, I wasn't happy. I was mostly only happy when I was dreaming. Not living the dream.
That December sunset broke the silence and the isolation. I decided to come closer to myself and to the one I love. But it seemed like it was too late. The one I loved had distanced himself from me, and didn't want to receive me. I was confused and full of hurt ego-feelings.
This is Elin, the most beautiful soulfriend. She looks like Juliette Binoche and she has elegance in her soul, in her eyes, and in her heart. She is proud, deep and strong and very, very special. On this picture she has a hangover. So do I. We'd been at the Bar Marsella the day before, drinking Absentha. It was me, Linda, and Elin. And then it was one Italian man, one French man, and one Spanish man. We had three absenthas each and we felt waves of pleasure. From the movie scene around us, from the accents of the men, from the eyes starting to shine when the active ingredients in the drink was working on our inner rooms. Our inner rooms opened up to new beginnings and new mysteries. We went to a club in Plaza Real, an old fancy apartment re-done as a club, and it was packed with people. But our inner rooms kept shining with mystery and as we got home at 6 in the morning we had no idea why, but we felt new and sensual again. Our inner rooms had been decorated and lit up. There had been sensuality, movement and fragrance in those rooms.
The winter lanes of Barcelona were lonely. The one I love had decided to follow his dreams and go travelling to Africa. It was his childhood dream and he felt it was then or never. I cried and wondered why destiny seemed to have such bad timing. I had just decided to open up and stop my isolation. I wanted to open my heart and be with him. I had realized I was stopping the relationship from growing deeper, with my fear of sharing completely. By living in Barcelona, a half hour flight from him, I thought I'd be at a safe distance to be close enough but far away enough.
And then... he left. As I came back from the airport after saying goodbye, I opened the door to my apartment. Xucla greeted me very happily, and then she stepped out and looked down the stairs, wagging her tail, waiting for Noam. she just stood there, and waited. And the tail slowly stopped. I cried. I felt I had lost something that I had just been ready to receive, but I had been taking to long to be ready.
Winter nights in Barcelona, lights in the bars at night, cozy and warm in the bars... There's always a bar around to relieve our thirst for light, coziness, warmth. To remove the lonely feeling. Barcelonely. Because we are just visitors here. We are the outer layer of this city and we never enter the real core of it. Because we believed we were going to Spain. Sunny Spain, full of fiestas and torreros and flamenco. But we discovered something else as we started peeling the layers of this city. This place is called Catalunya, and Catalunya has absolutely nothing to do with Spain except its official political ties. Culturally, this is NOT Spain. And it never will be.
Me in a bar toilet. Somewhere in Gótico, Barcelona. After a few drinks, of course. I think it was bottled beers, Estrella, of course. The national drink of Barcelona. Sitting outside in the cold so smoking can happen. Smoking and drinking beer. Very common way to pass time in this city. And talking about the city. We all think it feels so transient. Like we are just visitors. And one day we leave, and remember our beerbottled evenings with fondness, telling the world that we used to live in Barcelona. While the local population, the Catalan people, just see us a surface decoration that seems to shift slightly, but in general, we all look the same, feel the same, do the same things. Until the day we leave, and someone replaces us.
The famous W hotel forms part of the Barcelona skyline. I never really liked the Barcelona skyline. It's too pretentious, it's trying to be something it's not. And the sand is fake, they say it's imported from Florida, or the Sahara, or Dubai, to impress the worls at the Olympics 1992. I never liked Barceloneta. Or Bogatell. Ot any of the other fake beaches. That's all they were to me. Fake.
Smoke? Yes in the "puta" street! I like that. I'm not really a smoker anymore, so I like it. I'd have a few during the night, but never really heavy smoking. No. But Barcelona is a smoking city. It's a drinking and smoking city and the people would have loved the bars to have stayed smoky. That would have felt more Barcelonic. Smoky, hazy, drunken state of being.
The one I love left me. But he left me with a gift. The greatest gift. This creature. She has so much love. I poured all my love into her and I no matter how much I poured, I always got a million times more back. We developed a synchronized way of being. We became best friends. She and I. Together. Just the two of us. Exploring Barcelona and all its smells.
What do I want to be when I grow up? The answer was always clear: I want to be a writer. Who writes books.
I spent the year in Barcelona doing things I didn't really want to do. I did five jobs, one degree, rented out rooms in my apartment. I lived away from the one I love.
But what I always really wanted to do, was to write a book. To be a writer. Why had I come to the age of 33 and still not done what I really wanted to do in life? So it was then or never. The time had come not just for the one I love, who had gone to Africa to fulfill his childhood dream. It was also time for me to fulfill my dream. The time had come.
But these things are not that easy to do. They are easy to say, but so much harder to do. It's called procrastination and its well known to go hand in hand with creative projects and pursuits. But I started thinking about doing it and I started planning how and where I was going to start doing it. And I felt I was closer than ever. Especially because I had the feeling that it is now or never. I have the time, I have money to survive and pay the rent and the food and the bills for a few months. And then the one I love will come back and it will be... either one way or another with him. For the moment I was just waiting for his return. Barcelona is a temporary place for people like me, and temporary places with temporary people require temporary activities. And what better temporary activity than the one I had been planning all my life?
More planning, more procrastination. But in the meantime, I was discovering the city of Barcelona together with my Xucla. Seen through her eyes, it was so different. It smelled different and it had a lot more green areas and parks. Here the light is shining through a canopy of green leaves in the forest above Park Guell, which became one of our favorite places. It felt wild and free and windy, and we never met any other people there. Just a few hundred metres down, the park was packed with tourists and people, but up here, no one ventured. And the houses and barrios down there, behind Park Guell, were so quiet, so real, so different.
One day it was really, really raining. Xucla was looking at me, pleading for some fun. In the little apartment in Carrer Verdi, Gracia, she couldn't interact with the world outside. It was boring for her. She needed to get out into the city with all its smells and adventures. But there was only one problem: the rain. She doesn't like rain. But she also forgets, as soon as we get back inside the flat, that its raining. So she was staring at me, doing her manipulative, sad face, that says: Let's go out please! And every time we went out, she finds a human with an umbrella and sneak under there. I didn't have an umbrella. I actually love the rain. Especially when it's always sunny, I welcome the rain as such a wonderful break from the usual. I like the change from the usual.
I made her pose in front of the classic Barcelona-background: the metal persienas, always sprayed with grafitti. Artistic grafitti sometimes and sometimes ugly grafitti. The sound of these persienas being rolled up is a classic Barcelona-sound to which one becomes immune after living there for a while; except just a conscious "knowing" that it's either morning time, siesta time, or evening time. The rolling up and down of the persienas marks the different sections of the day. In Barcelona, those sections of the day happen much later than in the rest of Europe. Try to get a coffee in Barcelona at 6 am. Ha! You might get a beer from a bar that's open late. 10 am, and you're more likely to find a grumpy bartender who'll make your coffee.
Stairway to someone's home, in the upper parts of Gracia, on the way to Park Guell. I often stopped here and admired the beauty. Although faded, it was still beautiful. Like an old actress who's beauty was at its strongest in the 60's, but you can still see it in her face. She is stunning, despite the flakey paint.
So here we are. We went out in the rain. Her begging face made me surrender, finally. We found a Bicing, and we cycled through the rain. Xucla cycled and I ran. All the way, with raindrops all over the place, down to the beach. And the fake beach that I never really liked, was so lovely in the rain. Xucla didn't approve of the rain at first, but as she had to focus so much when cycling, she forgot about it, and became warm from running. And when she saw the huge, empty beach, she just jumped and ran off with so much joy.
This is how I like the Barcelona beaches. With dark clouds over it. Darkness and gloom. It makes it look more real. I don't like the fake feeling it has. But this is real. Real rain, real clouds, real forces of nature. And Xucla kept running in circles, expressing her pure joy.
Natural beauty in the fake sand. Little coloured seashells making traces in the sand. Making patterns, forming shapes.
And the floors of Barcelona...
I kept looking for the soul, the essence, the centre of this city. I couldn't FEEL it for so long. I kept enquiring and searching for the soul of this fleeting and temporary city. And there, after cycling and running in the rain with Xucla, as we entered La Confitería in Raval but close to Poble Sec, I realized where the essence lies.
It lies right there, inside the bar, on the floor. With the cozy bar surrounding it, the floor, this classic Barcelona tiled floor, is the base and the bottom of this city. Life happens in the bar in Barcelona, and the floor is the thing we stand on, walk on, and sit on. And the floor is beautiful. It has personality and style.
La Confitería is one of those places where I feel the soul of this city. It's cozy, warm and loud. And it has that special, tiled floor so typical of this city. On the shelves are those classic soda-bottles and along the bar sit the different categories of the human spectrum. Transsexual, gay, missing a screw, visitor, in love, poor and business people. All sitting along the same bar. Drinking alcohol. Eating olivas and patatas.
The view from Montjuic on a cold winter day coming to an end. The light is purple and we cycled here and spent the day climbing this mountain. After a day like that, you just don't feel like cycling all the way up to Gracia again in the cold, so you choose to smuggle Xucla onto the metro from the Paral.lel station. The one I love taught me how to do that. He's much better than me with breaking the rules. But it felt good to break the rules. It made me feel closer to him. I missed him. I felt hurt by him. I was waiting for him. But I knew I needed to fill the waiting time with something meaningful.
Another writing-procrastinating day at Barceloneta. A very windy day. The color is powdery blue and I feel I need to start my project. I just need to do it. Just do it.
    While I'm trying to Just Do It, Xucla is following smells of other dogs in the barrio of Barceloneta.
    And checking out the palace in Parque Ciudadella.
   And smelling laundry in Barceloneta.
    And listening to street singers in Placa del Sol, Gracia.
    And being harassed by me and the grafitti-backgrounds.
And that's me. About to meet Emma, who's inside this cool caf'e/art gallery/bar in Balmes, interviewing some people for her article about Barcelona vs Madrid, later published in Tidningen RES. (one of my pictures ended up here, I'll tell you later, event of the year for my personal happenings!)
I had this assignment from my Photojournalist-course to do, and here is the result. The idea is great and I like the composition. The assignment is to take a portrait of a professional and show them in their working habitat; tell their story through the picture. So I like that Emma is sitting in a street café, writing, just after her interviews. As she is a freelancer living in Barcelona, she lives a sunny life. Her body is reflected in the big glass window behind her. But I lacked and still lack the technical skills do this portrait properly. The white part is overexposed and "burnt" so the details cannot be seen. Anyway. The tutor told me the idea, composition etc is good, but I need to practice my technical knowledge.
Oh My God. Isn't she just so beautiful. I have to capture this face. Even though it's saying "Linda let's go home please. I had enough."
A house facade in El Borne. Chaos? Always chaos in someone's life, in someone's heart. My life at this moment was very very peaceful on the surface. I walked around Barcelona with Xucla, I took pictures, I had my drinks in my bars, I did my yoga and I didn't write and I didn't talk with the one I love. He seemed so far away and he had left me at the moment when I was ready to share myself with him. I felt more than abandoned; I felt as if I had opened my arms to give and receive love, but had been rejected.
Another cozy bar in another dark winter street in Gótico. Inviting, to say the least. And the feeling of the alcohol makes me forget the feeling that I woke up with. It makes me feel creative and active and happy and warm and connected to life around me. Less lonely. Less isolated.
This is Emma in a bar in Grácia. Notice the heart shape in the drink glass behind her. I like it. I was very very drunk this night. I don't remember what I had done but once I got back to Grácia from downtown and met up with Emma and some other people in this bar, I could barely function. Apparently I left without saying goodbye and stumbled the few hundred metres home.
And one day spring arrived. The warmth was suddenly back. Everything felt different. I guess it was March by now. And I had started writing one night, just after my yoga practice, together with a glass of wine. I just did it. I sat down on my bed with a glass of wine and some music, feeling good after the yoga and with some warmth having entered life again, and I just did it. It didn't happen the way I had planned it, but it happened. And once it started, it was flowing freely until the day it finished. It was as if I was preparing my whole life for this day when it just started. I had nothing to do with it. It happened by itself.
I continued my walks with Xucla in town every day. I just used time more efficiently, suddenly. I spent around 6 hours a day writing nonstop and between those hours I took Xucla for adventures. Here we are in Placa Catalunya and we are observing African boys packing up their sales goods in an instant and disappearing into the metro because police was approaching. They were not too happy with me for taking the picture.
This is Kim. One day he moved into my flat. He's a friend of a friend of Emma, and he had come to Barcelona to work as a webdesigner for a small company in Poble Nou and needed somewhere to stay as he landed. He stayed for six weeks and we became really good friends. He is a real artist. He draws amazing things. When he came home from work, and on the weekends, he used to sit and draw, and I was writing. We took turns cooking dinner and on the weekends when he was off work he came with me and Xucla for adventures in the city. A lot of fun. A very special soul.
One day we went to Castelldelfels. Me, Xucla, Kim, Edu (my other flatmate) and Constantino (the business partner and friend of Edu) and we had such a lovely day. We had brought food and we bought cold beers, and we enjoyed the spring light and warmth. Xucla had the most fun of all of us, of course, running around relentlessly, making friends. I felt temporarily very happy.
Here is Kim enjoying the sun and the feeling of Barcelona spring. He was at this time experiencing what many temporary visitors report: they feel as if they are in love with the city. I remember feeling this way, too in the beginning. In love with Barcelona. Because being in love is temporary state and it does pass. Once it passes, you start to see clearly again, and you are in a deeper process of deciding whether it is love or not. Being in love is not real love. Barcelona for me was never real love. Just a short fling. Also for Kim. He left after six months, and the relationship never lasted. He now lives in Amsterdam again.
Here is another relationship that was doomed from the start. This is Gogo, my friend Daniella's little toy poodle. Xucla and him tried. They really tried. But it was just doomed. She's a giant and he's a toy. It just couldn't work.
This is the show in the club Cabaret in Barcelona, where I did a photography job for Emma. One of the pictures from this night came to be published in Tidningen RES, and I was VERYVERVERY happy and proud. But of course that didn't mean I was famous overnight and newspapers and magazines started calling me from all directions. No.
Quite the opposite, actually. The feeling of elevated happiness for having achieved something just became silence. I kept writing. I kept walking and cycling the city. As if nothing happened.
This seemed to be the subject of the year in Barcelona. The temporariness of everything. I had a temporary life, temporary friends, temporary jobs, and temporary activities. There were many beginnings and many endings.
Art gallery in Torrent de l'olla, Grácia. Poster from Space, one of the night clubs in Ibiza. Ibiza. The island where the one I love lived. The place I wanted to be, with him, but didn't have the courage to go, because I was afraid. I prefered to separate. I separated myself to a lonely isolated life in Barcelona where I tried to do the things I had always wanted to do. But when I saw this, I felt my soul screaming. Wondering why I chose lonely. Why did I choose lonely?
I was too afraid. Afraid to lose. Lose what? Myself. Because I felt I hadn't done all the things I wanted to do with my life yet. I hadn't become what I thought I would be. I felt unfinished. And I felt a surrender to a love relationship would make me less. Not more. I felt as if love weakened me. As if love robbed from me. As if I became a nobody when I was giving myself to love.
Armano became one of my friends on the streets of Grácia. He was wandering the streets, too. Alone, with his nine dogs tied to his waist. Barefoot, even in the cold winter months. He is very very special. Aggressively special. Different. People are afraid of him and very curious about his story. We used to talk. He wanted us to have sex. I laughed. I found him attractive in a very weird way. I liked talking to him. Xucla was interested in his dogs but they were never able to connect really, as his dogs stayed connected to his waist. Sometimes he walked to La Floresta outside of the city, to a house he had found there. An abandoned house, where he's spend a few days meditating. He was an Osho-follower and had lived in India. Now he makes a living playing music on the streets of Grácia.
A very cozy bar in Grácia. I started another project together with Emma and a web-designer, also from Sweden, called Sven. We were going to make an iPad-app with an insider's guide to the barrios of Barcelona. I really loved my part of the project, as I was doing it anyway: I walked around the city and took pictures of the places I liked, while Xucla came with me. It was a lot of fun. And I kept writing.
    Here's a scene in Raval, close to the Macba art centre.
                            Here's a scene from behind the university. Heroin and cava.
Here's Frodo, who lives in Placa del Sol, Grácia. His owner is a woman who loves Estrella beer and she drinks them all day long here in the plaza.
Here's Emma during a drunken night out, spanning all the barrios from Grácia to Gótico to Barceloneta to Raval and back again. Emma, Kim & me. A lot of fun. A lot of alcohol.
                   Interviewing a guy in a sunglass shop on Joaqin Costa in Raval. Part of our project.
    In a very cool shop in Joaqin Costa, Raval. Another part of the project.
Spring in full bloom. I started feeling better. Independent. The hurt from my stretched out arms being rejected has slowly faded away and I was happy to be busy writing, photographing, wandering and getting tipsy. Life had gotten busy with the things I really liked and I seemed to have managed to create the life I had dreamed of. But I wasn't making any money from it, of course, so in a way it was all a beautiful and temporary illusion.
A temporary illusion.
I knew what I was waiting for.
LOVE.
The wardrobe of Sissi from Finland. Her flat all the way up in the sky in Barceloneta had a beautiful light in it and you could see all of the city. But she couldn't wait to leave Barcelona to go back to Finland. After living in the city for many years, she had met a Finnish guy on a visit back home, and they had fallen in love.
    Here is the view.
And here is what we did after. Xucla sat in the sofa between us and enjoyed being the princess of the bar, eating all the olivas and patatas, while we drank cava.
   Cutie in Carabella, Lee's bar in Barceloneta.
View from my balcony. The back of Grácia. It's a rainy day again. The heaters are on in the flat. I'm writing. I'm taking a break. I'm drawing a heart so I can see the world again.
I'm drawing a heart so I can see the world again.
Only though the heart can we see clearly.
The blossoms on the top of the hill behind Park Guell. Spring is happening and the temporary feeling of happiness is strong.
    A street in Raval at night. Blossoms. Beautiful life.
   The sodabottles of Barcelona.
                            The multicultural barrio of Raval.
The Dog is Hot, the amazing hot dog place on the cool street of Joaqin Costa in Raval. Cheap and good and even better when you are at the end of a drunken night. Or the morning after. It's usually one or the other if you're a temporarily happy visitor in Barcelona.
The new Filmoteca in the red light district, also called the Barrio Chino, in the heart of Raval. Here the prostitues work and the city council is trying to clean up the mess. So they make it trendy.
    Weekend street market in Riera Baixa, Raval.
Inside one of the vintage shops there. M.O.T.E.L. Xucla was fascinated by the gold fish stuck in a glass box.
                            Wall decoration in Raval.
    Car window reflections in Raval.
    Still doesn't get it. But very fascinated.
    Another street scene by the Macba.
Pig's feet in la Boquiería. Xucla loves this market. It's full of weird and wonderful smells. She can spend hours here. Me too.
A house wall in the barrio of Sants. I only came here to visit my friend Tine. It's a very different barrio. Not a single tourist. Very refreshing. 
                                      
When Tine announced she was pregnant, I had very mixed feelings. I was very happy for her of course. But it stirred up emotions that I had been supressing. I was living a life of temporary happiness where I did all the things I loved, I was writing and taking pictures and I was wandering the city with Xucla and I was drinking in cool places and bars and plazas with my friends. But now me and Tine could no longer have our wine and our deep talks which seemed to come out of the depth of the empty wine bottles. I was disappointed somehow that the illusion was broken. And I was fearful of the truth which had come from the mirror of where her life was headed. I thought about the one I love, who was in Africa. But it was too painful to admit what my heart was really longing to see. 
    I preferred to see through the lens of my camera or through the feeling the alcohol gave me.
 But the eyes of Xucla spoke only of love. Love love and more love. She kept me connected    somehow to reality.
I imagined. I escaped. I tried to live the temporary illusion. Waiting for the one I love to come back from Africa. To see what there really was between us. To see clearly.
 
From the little flat in Carrer Verdi, Grácia, Barcelona, I tried to create the life of my dreams, in a temporary situation, in waiting.
I felt an emptiness in the soul each morning as I awoke. If I didn't have Xucla, I'm not sure I would have made it through. She put a smile on my face so many times every day.
    This is NOT Xucla. 
   Joaqin Costa, Raval. One of my favorite streets. Walking. Taking pictures. Me and Xucla. Breathing. Waiting. Teporary. Fleeting.
    Observing beauty. The movement of this city. The surface shifting.
    Stopping to feel the sun. Stopping to sit. Waiting for him. Writing my book while I'm waiting.
Spending time with friends. This is Daniella and her family, in Sant Cugat. I often came here on Friday nights for dinner and cozy family life.
Capturing moments. Two boys loading Estrella from a truck to a bar. The flowing river of Estrella Beer in the bars of Barcelona. The essence of this city.
Bar Marsella, Barrio Chino, Raval. That green liquid, it made me feel so good and so alive. So creative and so happy, so beautiful and so fulfilled. I knew exactly what I wanted when I was under the influence. But it was different the day after. The day after was always empty and lonely.
Just like Barcelona.
Empty, transient, temporary and lonely...

When the one I love came back from Africa, wearing a safari hat, I knew immediately as I laid my eyes on him that I love him. I love him the same I loved him the first time I saw him and I loved him the same I love him today. The love was always there and it never changed.
The only thing that changed was my fear of love.
I never wanted to be in Barcelona.
I wanted to be with him.
But I hadn't known how much I wanted to be with him. I was afraid of admitting it, so I was hiding behind isolation in Barcelona.
Bittersweet Barcelonelyia. I have no regrets. I don't "do" regrets. It was a beautiful time.

The book was finished just before he came back. I sent it to a few publishers last summer, but it was rejected. But I didn't feel rejected. Because I had accomplished the one thing I dreamed of: I wrote a book. I did it. I fulfilled a lifelong dream. And that was enough to be more clear about myself and life. So I guess not until then was I ready to open my arms again to love.

The one I love had an amazing, but very lonely experience in Africa.

The road from then on lead us to Cadiz. A roadtrip full of decision.
The road then led to Ibiza and to a complete disaster and breakdown.
And then re-birth.
Into reality.

No one said life is easier just because you have love.
But it's definitely more real.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Linda meets a "real" sadhu on the banks of the Ganges

So it's early morning, before sunrise, in Varanasi. i'm staying at the Yogi lodge in goudalia, the old, smelly, labyrinth of Varanasi old city. my travel companion, Katja, is sleeping sweetly on her thin, stained mattress, bundled up with a trillion dusty blankets.
i'm hunting for a real Aghori baba.
I did my dissertation at uni about the Pashupatas- the really nasty, crazy renunciates, who follow Shiva. they eat dead flesh, they live at the burial grounds, they smear their bodies with ashes from the funeral pyre. they drink water from a human skull, and they behave in different funny, weird ways, to be like Shiva. they scare people and they give respect.
apparently, these sadhus only exist today in Nepal, in the Pasupatinath.
but, I had read and heard, that another, related tribe of sadhus, called "Aghoris", still could be found in Varanasi, close to the burning ghat, where human bodies were burning day and night.

So I was walking, early that morning, toward…

the "fake" aghori baba turns out to be "real"

ok. I wrote this blog a few years ago. the moment was one of December 2008- so a while back.
I was up early, sunrise, just me and the monkeys and the pilgrims and the babas and the chai-wallas...and i guess yeah, it's normal to be up at sunrise in Varanasi, despite the fog, despite the cold- or maybe precisely BECAUSE of these things. No point staying in bed. The monkeys wake us up anyway and it's goddamn freezing, so let's get a warm, energizing chai, and let's pray that we get out of this suffering called life- where it's cold, foggy, and the annoying monkeys steal our bananas.



So I was on the lookout for this type of dude. I had written my dissertation at uni (SOAS, amazing SOAS!) about these kind of babas, admittedly not existent anymore in India, but in Nepal, in the Pashupatinath, yes. I had been told by my Hinduism professor that yes, some of them did still exist in Benares, eating dead flesh, and doing their weird laughing. I love it! How weird and creepy…

getting drunk on absinthe in Bar Marsella

Absinthe
Also called the Green Fairy, from the French- La Fee Verte. Others called it the Green Goddess or the Green Muse.
But the Green Fairy isn't just another name for absinthe; it is a methaphor for artistic transformation and enlightenment. It opens up the mind to a freer state, a place where exploration of poetical pathways and new inspirational ideas can grow wildly. To the Parisian bohemians of late the 1800's, the Green Fairy was a guide into their artistic world, where new, groundbreaking art was created. Absinthe was to the artists of the time what smoking weed was for the hippies in the 60's; their "revolutionairy guide" and what they believed was the substance that "opened their minds".
Artists, poets and writers reached for a glass of the Green Fairy for inspiration to their creative works and during "the green hour", in the late afternoon, many glasses were consumed in Parisian bars and cafes- but not just that, apparently, s…

I finally went on that life-changing trip

I first came to Puglia in 2008, I think it must have been early October. I'd had an awesome time in Tuscany and Rome and Calabria and was arriving there by train, filled to the max with beautiful experiences and electric connections, not really expecting much else than just a half-boring yoga teacher training that I had signed up for, not really knowing what else to do with my life after finishing my degree in Indian Philosophy at SOAS, University of London. 

As the train cut through Basilicata and into Puglia, the amount of olive trees that swooshed past started to be shocking. After a while, I realised that it just wasn't going to end. Endless amount of them, large, proud, thick. Planted in perfect rows, with no sigh of the end, or the horizon. 

My eyes widened as I started to think I was hallucinating. Was I going insane?
It went on for hours. Endless olive trees. I felt as if there was a movie on repeat outside of the train window. 

As the train finally stopped in Bari, I wait…