Oh certainly. All this unbridled joy has given me quite an appetite. Violet on Downton Abbey
I thought it would be a freshness in the ocean air, a winter light dancing across mosaic-tiled walls. I thought it would be Columbus, standing high on his perch in the harbor pointing his way to something new. I thought it would be Picasso and Dali and Miro, old friends from other trips to this city of surreal out-of-the-box buildings and art that splashes itself across your psyche in surprising ways. I thought it would be Gaudi, who grabbed me by the arm and nudged me forward into this new year. And it’s true, that the artists, both living and dead, sang to me on this recent five-day trip that Cam and I took across the sea to Barcelona. Who doesn’t feel more alive when the sea is splashing the shore and the Catalan sun is shining down on you, when you are winding your way through gothic-aged alleys, and markets piled high with spices and olives and the most perfect clementines you’ve ever seen? Who doesn’t feel more alive when your aimless wanderings lead you to treasure upon treasure upon treasure, lead you stumbling right into a shop that you recognize from an earlier visit, and there she is, your friend who makes the zipper skirts that you bought three years ago? Who doesn’t feel more alive when you’ve re-connected with a soul-sister in a city half-way around the world?
And yes, there is Gaudi. Who doesn’t feel more alive when you’re in the presence of Gaudi? He lives and he breathes in the buildings that he has created throughout the city. You can feel him in the walls. You can feel him in the light that dances across those walls. And it was at Parc Guell, the magnificent park that he created over a century ago, that I sat on one of his walls in the sun over-looking one of his fairy-tale towered buildings; I sat there next to my guy and I listened to a young man who was also sitting on a wall and playing a song that didn’t seem possible to be played on a guitar. And a moment like that is healing balm for the spirit, is a Catalan catalyst of forward motion into the new year. I’m not minimizing its affects. This trip to Barcelona was the perfect palate-cleansing nudge into what’s next on the platter of possibilities. I’m just telling you that I was surprised, that I didn’t expect it, that something new and delightful would show up in the darnedest of places, that the after-party could be as fun and forward-focused as the Barcelona trip itself.
And who expects to find an after-party or anything of inspiration for that matter in that dark dungy world between worlds, in the purgatorial holding tank before you step back into the land you are now re-entering? But that’s what happened. It was after getting our passports stamped, in the underworld of the Detroit Airport, and while waiting for our suitcases to come around the conveyer belt that I met him, my role model and mentor, the guy who held the passport to moving my energy forward into 2013. I first noticed him as he approached a man who had just arrived from India. And he wasn’t as dignified and calm-faced as the man he encountered. In fact, he wasn’t dignified at all. He was all ears and squirming body and a wild swishing tail. He was a buzzing wiggling ball of enthusiasm and poor manners as he jumped up on this man’s well-loaded backpack. My mentor was on a mission, seeking out food and other contra-band that we all might have snuck back into this country. Now this might have been a somber assignment for someone with a more serious disposition, but not for my mentor, floppily flitting from suitcase to backpack, eagerly sucking in the treats handed to him by the woman on the other side of his leash.
My mentor was a beagle! A small close-to-the-ground beagle doing such serious work in such a joy-filled manner, a beagle bringing light and delight to us all. It was an honor to have your backpack sniffed by such a fellow, and when he sniffed Cam’s backpack, and the woman on the other side of the leash asked Cam in quite a serious tone to put it on the ground for a second sniff, we chuckled. How could we not?!? We loved this guy, this guy who loved to sniff and loved the treats that came his way. Jet-lag goes out the window when you’re in the presence of such enthusiasm. We flew through customs on the floppy ears of a tail-wagging beagle, laughing and light-hearted. And I’m still holding on, holding on to this beagle’s sincerity, to his eagerness, to the genuine appreciation that swept through him when treats came his way.
So yes, the gifts from Barcelona have taken hold inside of me. As I sat there on the wall that Gaudi had tiled into something that resembled an ocean wave, as I listened to the guitar music and peeked out at the quirky surreal tower on Gaudi’s fairytale building, I thought of my own love for creating things into being, how I have a fairyhouse, maybe a fairy bunkhouse, that’s in me waiting to be built. And the buzz of creativity that I felt in Barcelona as I meandered down streets and alleys is now buzzing in my very own cells. But there’s also something so sweet and wonderful about a beagle who loves his job and loves his treats and lets his nose lead the way into the next adventure and the next, tail-wagging the whole time!