September 29, 2012

The rain woke me up in the middle of the night, a low and rapid plonking and snapping on the corrugated roof just several feet above my place on the floor. I lay between sleep and wake, listening to the rain and the dog’s gentle snores and the slight creaking of the trees outside. There is nothing quite so peaceful as the sound of rain in the middle of the night.

It was still raining heavily come morning, and we all rose early to watch the mist rise from the valley floor to the top of the opposite peak. The mountains here are close and steep, making the sky appear a vertical wall of verdant green and fog. Coffee brewing and quiet morning conversation.

And then a flurry of activity when the thin roof began to leak, water dripping down the white plastered walls, Aaron climbing atop the roof to clear the debris and Monica mopping, while Bowie jumped around, wagging his short little tail a mile a minute. Monica and Aaron’s tiny flat is all one rectangular room, desk to bed to couch to table to counter, so from my blanketed nest on the floor, the studio was a theatre, and I watched it all for a moment before getting up to help.

I walked to the train station in the downpour, the fat droplets splashing onto my umbrella, my shoes wet within seconds. I had originally thought I might explore the top of Montjuďc today, but I decided to instead stay inside, opting for a visit to the Miró museum.

Though I didn’t initially have a particular interest in Miró’s work, the museum was a peaceful setting for the weather, and I wandered through the galleries as the rain streamed down the windows, immersing myself in the primary colors and abstract birds and women and planets and stars. One photograph showed Miró in a collared shirt and tie and suspenders and high-waisted trousers, looking every bit the part of a 1950’s business man, standing in front of a fanciful canvass. This image arrested me for some time — we are not always what we seem to be.

In the afternoon I walked through the Poble Sec, rain running rivulets down the sidewalks, the handle of my umbrella warm, everything and everyone bundled and wet in the humid rain and cooling breeze. Eventually I took shelter in a little café and felt suitably melancholy with a coffee, writing in my notebook.

What I wanted to do was call it quits and head back home to the mountains, but I knew Aaron and Monica were going to be out late, and I thought it would be good to get a little human interaction after such a wet and grey day. So I rallied and found myself in a pub off Las Ramblas, having an electric and magical and lengthy (six hours!) conversation with a Catalan nationalist named Marc. He was happy to get a chance to practice his English and share the current state of Catalonia, and I was drawn to his passion and intellect, and was eager to know more about the Catalan people’s call for independence.

I of course cannot relate all that I learned, but suffice to say, I now have a much better understanding of the plight and oppression of the Catalan people, as well as their exciting and relatively recent trajectory toward independence. I honestly would not be surprised to see a new European country on the map within the next three years. How inspiring it must feel to be on the brink of such monumental change…

It all gave me so much to think about as I climbed the steep and leafy incline to my current mountain home. Particularly, the thing that Marc left me with: “You don’t demand independence. You declare it.”

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