THAT SUNDAY IN BARCELONA
Updated: Dec 25, 2022
Sometimes it’s the little things. The little things that make it count. The little things that remind us how to see the bigger picture. All of this is true, but only if we’re tuned in to hearing it. Are you?
Have I ever mentioned how much I hate the Google Maps app for walking? I hate it with a passion. Never once have I had any luck with it. Somehow it always has me going around in circles, never getting me to my destination. Serves me right anyway, when I have a perfectly good sense of direction, and I somehow still end up discounting that, and myself, by taking advice from a post-millennial who doesn’t even know how to read a map.
The irony is the Google Maps scenario parallels my life almost exactly. After finally reaching a point of knowing how I want my life to be, I still find myself lost and no where near to arriving at where I want to be.
I’m tired of finding myself. When will I finally be found?
I’m beginning to learn that things just happen, if you let them. If you can somehow find a way to let go of the grip and the control you delude yourself into thinking you have on everything and leave it up to fate, things actually happen. Good things. Unexpected things. Just like that Sunday in Barcelona…
It was just after breakfast. I was making my way down to the lobby to meet with the concierge. As the elevator doors slid open, my eyes were greeted with the brillant morning sunlight, flooding the spacious lobby of the boutique hotel I was spending the week in. Soft beige velvet couches, creamy white marble floors, wood paneling throughout and floor to ceiling glass windows in between. It looked like a page out of Architectural Digest.
Two young men, tan-skinned and handsome, stood behind the concierge desk. They'd be my ticket to making a dream come true. Well, at least that‘s what I thought. Handsome? Yes, but helpful? No. It was about a simple request of trying to fulfill a bucket list wish: an intimate concert of a Spanish flamenco guitarist somewhere preferably outdoors. Picturing a tree-lined park perhaps, a soft summer breeze cooling a blue starry night, I'd be seated at one of those little round metal bistro tables, sipping red wine as the guitar strums echoed the melodies of Paco De Lucia, serenading and seducing my very being. Just like the scene in that movie, “Vicky Christina Barcelona”.
Ever since I saw that movie some years ago, all I wished for, if I ever ended up back in Spain, was to recreate and experience that very scene, a scene which then turned into rolling around on the grass, enwrapped in a hot and steamy embrace with the likes of a handsome Spaniard named Javier Bardem, but I digress...
Having been looked at like I was asking for the impossible, as if I wanted them to find me a seat on the moon to watch elephants fly, ironically in a country known for flamenco and Spanish guitar, I cut the conversation short. Realizing my dialogue with another post-millennial was getting me nowhere, I decided to give up on my bucket list, and stick with asking for basic directions.
It was my second day as I set out to find the Gothic Quarter, what the Spanish call, El Barri Gotic: a labyrinth of shady, narrow streets, intertwined together, perfect for wandering and getting lost in for hours at a time. I had had an idea of how to get there, but thought it wise to have Google Maps accompany me, just in case I lost my way.
Walking through the busy streets of this beautiful and historic Catalan city, filled with locals, young and old, and tourists like me trying to find their way through the hustle and bustle of noise and traffic, breathing in the last few days of what was left of the Spring air, that crisp air occasionally mixed with exhaust fumes, cigarette smoke and the sewer below…
The sun had begun to beat down on what was supposed to be quite a hot day. There was the voice, emanating from my mobile, that annoying, condescending voice, Siri’s sister, I presume, telling me to go straight and turn left in 150 meters, which then, randomly, turned into 1500 meters, and somehow my arrival time kept increasing. But I’m following the map, I thought, and the street it’s telling me to turn on to doesn’t seem to exist, one block after the next.
At this point, I knew I was lost. Lost and tired, as my morning coffee had begun to lose its effect and the lack of sleep from the night before had begun to kick in. Jet-lagged and cranky was an understatement. It was hot. I was sweating. The heavy weight of the camera bag, strapped across my chest was beginning to pull on my neck. I was annoyed. Lost, again, thanks to Google Maps.
But I continued walking, hoping my so-called good sense of direction would somehow help find my way. There it was again, that bitchy voice on speakerphone, telling me turn on such and such a street, botching every single street pronunciation, loaded with that heavy American accent, embarrassing me to my core. I hate Google Maps, I exclaimed, in my head…
When all of a sudden, there it was. A familiar melody playing in the distance. The closer I got, the louder it got, and the more my heart began to race, like something was calling it home. I began to run. Goosebumps pulsing all over me. I didn’t know what it was, but all I knew was to run towards it.
Suddenly, I found myself in the middle of this large square situated right next to the Barcelona Cathedral, inundated with tourists passing in every direction. I had arrived. I had reached my destination. Just like that, I was right in the middle of the Gothic Quarter. And there they sat, two young Spaniards with guitars in their laps, playing what was one of my favorite pieces of Spanish Flamenco.
My heart sank. I couldn’t believe my eyes or my ears, for that matter, or for what I was feeling deep within me. It was serendipity at its best. In that moment, I was found. Nothing else mattered, not the heat, not my tired and aching feet, or my frustration. My frustration of not knowing where to go anymore. I just stood there, frozen, for what seemed like an hour, my feet glued to the pavement. I was completely still, soaking every bit of it in, as every strum of every note poured into my soul and soothed every cell in my body. Simply, a state of elation, and truly a highlight of the trip.
In a moment of exhaustion and disappointment, faced without a hope or belief in anything anymore, when I had completely given up on something I tried so hard for, it happened. It just happened. The funny thing is I’ve been lucky enough to have had a handful of little synchronicities like this one, when, without a hint of expectation, things came about on their own.
I remember, and yet, I still somehow forget. Forget to trust, forget to believe that there is something bigger navigating us on this journey called life. That we fool ourselves into thinking we’re lost, when in actuality, we’re on our way. That all it takes is trusting the route and enjoying the ride. That when it’s meant to happen, it happens. Maybe not exactly the way we pictured it, or imagined it. And maybe, what feels like going around in circles in the same spot is really us just spiraling up, better and stronger, towards arriving at our destination.
So, the little things we so often take for granted, do matter. They do count. Sometimes, in the form of a whisper, and sometimes, a pull at our hearts, to tune in a little better in order to see the bigger picture.