Windows in Barcelona...ABC Wednesday, brought to you by the letter "W"
This was the view out of my little and run down but deliciously private room at a hostel on La Rambla. I was traveling alone at the time, and spent hours wandering around Barcelona. I wasn't in a social mood at this point in my travels...I'd been traveling with a group and ditched them when we arrived in the city. I needed time to myself.
La Rambla swallowed me up and allowed me to get lost people watching, writing, sketching, dreaming. I loved my quiet space amidst the energy that swarmed around me.
During my two weeks there I kept returning to a particular sculptor who had intriguing works for sale on the boulevard. His name was Paul Santana, and he lived where he worked, right on boulevard. Paul was British, old enough to be my father (who, ironically, also ended up being homeless), and claimed to have a beautiful estate in England but chose to live on the streets in an attempt to shed worldly attachments and focus on his art. He had scruffly, dirty long hair, and his clothes could have stood a good washing, but he carried himself like a gentleman. I found myself stopping by his shop (which moved from day to day but was always in the same general area) to enjoy a bit of conversation and admire his sculptures.
He knew I loved his work but was unable to afford one (being broke seems to be a theme in my life)...one evening on my way back to my room for an evening of reading, I stopped by to say hi, and Paul handed me a lovely piece and offered it to me. "You know I can't afford it," I told him, shaking my head with regret.
"No, Christine," he replied. "I made it for you, my gift."
To say I was thrilled is an understatement (that sculpture sits in front of me as I type). Paul then asked, "How about a beer?"
Oh, geeze, I thought. I can't afford to buy him a beer, but now I feel like I owe him.
My hesitation must have given away my thoughts, for he immediately laughed and followed up with, "My treat, Christine!"
So we crossed the boulevard and Paul bought me a beer, "Cheers!" He said and we clinked bottles. We stood there, leaning on the bar, talking about art and travel and family and life. When the bottles were empty we left them on the counter...Paul returned to his shop/home, I continued down the street.
When I got to the front door of my hostel, I looked back down La Rambla. The sun was setting and lights were beginning to twinkle. The activity was far from over, however. People were streaming in and out of buildings, walking up and down the boulevard, stopping to watch street performers or check out a stall, take a picture or peruse a menu. As I watched all of these people I was struck by how many stories there are out there...every single one of those dozens of people I could see at that moment were living their stories. I'd been given a glimpse of Paul's story...I was working on carving out my own story.
I turned my head away from the activity around me and walked inside the hostel, up the three flights of stairs and into my little room where I locked the door and curled up in bed to read.
When I woke up, I took that picture.