"In the summer," she said after checking again that I wasn't cold in my light shift in contrast to her heavier jacket, "there is a cafe open in the courtyard. We'll see if it's still there."
And it was, leaving me gazing around at the clusters of flowers and oranges ripening cheerfully on trees while we sipped strong coffee con leche and chatted about academic systems and upcoming post-docs and international moves. I could never, I decided as she spoke and gestured, be that brave or charmingly confident. We finished our drinks and set off again at a brisk pace - she pointed out buildings and gave background of history, both hers and Barcelona's.
"No," I replied as we stood at a stoplight. "I find myself feeling a bit badly about it, but I don't miss research or academia at all. My job stresses me out, but it's full or perks and money and opportunities to learn in various ways." Plus, I didn't say but did think, I was never going to contribute to the body of knowledge in any meaningful way. But this - taking in advice and sorting through information and organizing details and articulating priorities? This I can do.
Still, she was utterly charming and the dark chocolate ice cream she recommended was intensely good, yet the caffeine humming through my system was eventually inadequate to warm me in the cooling evening. So I hugged her and waved, scampering into my hotel while she moved toward the metro.
I slept this morning away, setting the clock I purchased on my first day in Barcelona forward one hour and sitting up to poke my hand out the window to feel the gentle rain before curling up and drowsing again. I awakened and was ready to go home - I've been away for many days and while it's been wonderful, I'm ready to sleep in my bed and kiss my Chienne and hug my parents hello. To refocus on work rather than ignoring all but the most urgent of messages and to get these lengthy flights as part of my past rather than immediate future.
Still, I walked and had lunch. Took pictures and basked in the sunshine that emerged between clouds. And returned to the hotel to nap. I increased the dose of my antidepressant this evening, realizing that my sleep schedule was a hint that my mind was withdrawing. Much as I want to be home, I'm less eager to return to the stress and arguments and incessant and irrelevant activity that is my professional life of late. So I responded to that cue and boosted medication, hoping it evened out my poor brain chemistry that just doesn't like changes.
I had some dinner and packed a bit more, folding dirty clothes and arranging the few purchases to make room for tomorrow's packing of oil and vases. I have a single pair of tights and one clean dress left - enough to carry me back to PHL and then on to home. I have hundreds of photos and a few personal directives that have occurred to me during my splendid Spanish explorations. Because I've not been particularly happy of late and I do think that the love of life I've experienced here should translate, at least in part, when I return to more familiar surroundings.
- Drink water. Grab a bottle and a glass and enjoy the splash of liquid into the latter. I feel better having swallowed so very much mineral water here, rendered thirsty by the walking and warmth but watching my skin become more supple and my insides seem to slosh around a bit more happily.
- Take time with food. Decide what you want - not what's most easily available - and focus on the eating of it. Oh, and acquire asparagus and mango. Lots and lots of mango.
- Be more kind. Drop metaphorical coins in cups people hold - for interesting performances or sincere expressions of need. Offer compliments or sympathy or time to listen and share and support.
- Buy flowers. Leave some at home and take some to work. It's a small, unnecessary thing, but I've adored my flowers in this hotel room. I smile at them and rub the tips of my fingers over the petals each day.
- Walk for much longer. My muscles are stronger and feet no longer ache. So be outside and wander and enjoy - Chienne will be pleased to trot alongside.
- Blog a bit more. Composing posts in my head as I walked, I found that I missed it. The finding of words and expression of emotions - it kept me present and thinking of my actions and reactions and how they might look when described.