Barcelona makes you feel ugly. It is a city of youthful, misguided beauty. It is filled with slight men with tiny waists, giggling teens in tight dresses and players on the make every night of the week. I have never seen so many “hot” individuals in such a small area; I have also never seen so many vacant faces, so many desperate eyes, nor judging stares. In the end, I decided to just look away instead of staring into the void.
The entire experience made me question whether I had missed anything by not being one of the millions of teens who flock here to escape their parents on an educational trip to one of the most beautiful cities on earth? The sexuality is palpable on the streets come 9pm, and yet it was that of 19 year old girls searching out 21 year old effeminate male youths to dance the night away with in a drunken, experimental pastiche of reality. No, I missed out on nothing, as this was never part of who I was or am. Like the Steely Dan masterpiece, “Hey Nineteen,” asserts: “No, we got nothing in common. No, we can’t talk at all.”
In the end, I think that what I learned most was that we are all products of our cultures, our idioms. I grew up in a culture that valued resilience, tradition and masculinity. I also grew up coddled in a female culture of my aunts, mother and grandmother who valued conversation, cooking and shiny baubles. Spain is a land wherein thin figures strut vacantly down the strip in a desperate attempt for that to make sense in a simple place with few options. Visitors misread that as a party of hedonism and they fail to see the true beauty of Barcelona: the counterpoint of the geniuses like Gaudi, Dali, Adria, Goya or Picasso.
Regardless, my visit to Spain has been wonderfully calming. I have eaten well, travelled deeply though not far, and I slept a little bit.
I get up in a couple of hours to head for the airport to hopefully connect in Geneva for a flight to Washington, DC on a 24 hour stopover. It will be a short layover at an airport hotel. Not sure if I will be able to see much of the city, but it was to only way home under $600 and 60,000 aeroplan points. Back to America where I understand the idioms, get the culture, have my boots for walking and a whole new way of seeing the world. Also have some great work coming in from Paderno and Base Camp X this week. Game on.