Self-deprecation is worth its weight in smoldering phoenix-ashes and baby unicorn tears.
Published on February 25, 2008 By SanChonino In Blogging

Another excerpt from my travel journal, and I think you'll like this one – the two of you who bother to stop by and read them at all lately . . .

(Hey Cedarbird - and BlueDev, too, if you ever stop by anymore - let's keep this to ourselves.  No need for the parents to know, if you know what I mean.)


20 Feb 2008. 9:25 pm.

I was supposed to have all four classes today.

I ended up having one.

Only in Southern Europe, man. University life is laid back. I don't mind a bit laid back, but it's crazily, annoyingly laid back here.

Too laid back, in fact. Three out of four classes should not cancel in one day. Oh well, it just gave me more time to rove the city like a vagabond.

Hillary asked for help with her English homework. Of course I said yes – not like I was busy with anything. We sat at her desk, hunched over her past participles, and talked. I was on a roll, making joke after joke, eliciting that luscious, throaty laugh that sends chills like a vibrophone up and down my spine.

As Marv would say (obscure reference there, points for the first right answer), she smelled like angels ought to smell, a vibrant mix of perfume and musk.

It was a wonderful hour well spent. And we actually did the past-participle nonsense, too.

Seeing as how Cam is on the 2-meals-a-day plan and I'm still only getting breakfast until Monday, I went to a café all by my lonesome for dinner . . .

I sit at the long, thin bar of the dark, smoky café, watching the mix of people come in and out as the harried attendant tries to help them all. Her eyes are tired, rimmed by her flat, brown hair and hidden behind thick glasses. She looks like she's worked here too long – and not just today, but overall.

She slaps my burnt frankfurt and limp fries down in front of me, asking if I'd like some salsa brava with them. I answer in the affirmative, and a look of annoyance flashes across her haggard face. She brings my sauce and leaves me in peace.

To my left is an old man, casually reading the daily paper while alternating drags on his thick, hand-rolled cigarette and sips of coffee from a pointlessly small cup. His sport coat is threadbare and worn, showing signs of its age and frequent use.

To my right a middle-aged woman, slapping euros one after another in the small pirate-themed one-armed bandit. I can't decide whether she's doing well or not – it's all just a flash of lights and unintelligible, garbled words coming out of the small, tinny speakers, drowned out by the old TV blaring some nonsense about Survivor.

At a table behind me there is a teenaged couple, brimming with saccharine sweetness and hormones. He's feeding her fries saturated in ketchup, dripping onto the table before arriving in her mouth. He goes to put another in, and some of the thick, red sauce falls on her shirt. She erupts in anger, wiping it off, licking her fingers, and slapping him simultaneously. He attempts to apologize, and she smiles again. Fickle girl . . .

I finish my frankfurt and get up to leave. I thank the server for my meal and she grunts. The old man to my left blows a plume of heavy, sickly smoke accidentally in my face.

Only in Southern Europe, man.

23 Feb 2008. 1:03 am.

The night is dark and has the slightest chill as we walk down the busy Rambla. She's bundled in a jacket and sports a scarf, while I walk in nothing but some long sleeves and my seemingly omnipresent cut-off gloves.

Our arms are locked as she makes a comment on my stupid gloves. She giggles as I recount the story of the burn and my own stupidity. She asks to see it. I pull off the left glove, and for some reason it's looking especially red today. She queries if it still hurts. I reply that, when it's col, it has a dull, deep ache that seems to penetrate the whole hand. She looks closer, hesitates a moment, and kisses it.

My eyes are wide like dinner plates as I ask why she kissed it.

“To keep it warm,” she replies.

A smile crosses my lips and I tell her she can warm me up anytime she wants. I realize how that must sound, and turn a deep shade of pickled-beet purple as she bursts into peals of laughter.

We meander down a side street, still looking for someplace to eat. I see the sign for the lone Japanese restaurant I have seen in Tarragona. I turn to her and ask if she wants some Japanese food. She replies, almost sheepishly, that she's never had it before.

(What is with me and girls who've never had Japanese food?)

I finally persuade her to try some. Adventurous.

We're seated at a small table in the rear. The restaurant is mostly empty, but it's cozy and warm. The server brings us our menus and I order us some sushi. (She's the one who said she's feeling adventurous.)

We sit and wait for the sushi, looking around the place. There's an older couple seated on the other side of the restaurant, obviously tourists, probably Brits. (They just ooze that “stiff-upper-lip” vibe.)

I turn to Hillary, and tell her to invent a story about the couple. She spins me a yarn about how they're on holiday, getting away from the kids and grandkids. She tells me to do the same, and I come up with some nonsense about them cheating on their spouses, saying they're in Spain for business – the business of bad behavior, that is.

The sushi comes and it is wonderful – some of the best I've had. She seems to enjoy it. I convince her to put a bit of wasabi on top of her next piece. The look on her face is priceless. She spills some of her water as she reaches for it in panic.

At this point my sides are splitting. She punches my arm and chides me for laughing, but I can tell she's playing. She loads up my next piece with a mountain of wasabi and demands that I eat it all as penance.

Her bright smile makes the pain worth it.

We return home, taking the long way down bright yet empty streets. I almost don't want it to end, but we arrive at her door. She invites me into her room (she's lucky enough to have it to herself) but it's late, and I decline.

We make plans to see each other tomorrow, and she gives me a hug, followed by kisses on my cheeks.

Her lips linger longer than before.

She still smells like angels ought to smell.

24 Feb 2008. 6:49 pm.

Saturday the strangest thing happened. We were walking down La Rambla after going to lunch, and suddenly everything got fuzzy. A thick, cold, wet mist had suddenly fallen over the city in a matter of moments.

I looked at her, incredulous. She explained that this sort of thing happens when you live by the sea.

I chortled a little and explained to her that the nearest sea to my home is a fifteen hour drive.

She grabbed me by the hand exclaiming that we had to look out at the misty sea. We ran to the end of La Rambla, staring down from the cliff edge at the hidden Mediterranean. As we arrived, a boat sounded its foghorn, a low, lonely, forlorn noise that seemed to reverberate through my entire body. It was a hauntingly beautiful experience to look out into the fog, into the hidden, into the unknown. It was the physical manifestation of all my emotions about coming to Spain.

We continued for home again, huddled close due to the drop in temperature under the soggy blanket of mist, but as we arrived in the park, we decided to deviate from our course. We ran across the green grassy fields and in between the dense patches of thin ash trees, silvered and barren, occasionally losing each other in the haze, only to hear the other call out, “¿Dónde estás?”

The mist was strangely pretty as it settled upon the city, sucking away the heat and obscuring the sight.

I hope to see it again.


Stay tuned for more updates as they come. Yay for Spain.

Comments (Page 1)
on Feb 25, 2008
So sorry this is in the personal computing section. Live Writer screwed me up. I'll try to get it changed, but in case a mod sees this before the long, long load of an edit page happens, please move it to travel or personal relationships or something else, before I get flamed by those crazy cats over at my other home, WinCustomize.

Not my fault guys, I promise!
on Feb 25, 2008

Sweet.  Thanks, secret mod from the skies! 

on Feb 25, 2008
Hate to be posting so often on my own article, but I forgot to include this in the body of the article:

For those who are curious as to the genesis of the story, go read the first part here and the second part (where I start talking about Hillary) here.
on Feb 25, 2008

The secret mod knows all, sees all....

*insert ominous music here*

on Feb 25, 2008
Nice writing style. As for the story itself... well, nothing I say can really express anything of interest to someone who lived through that.
on Feb 25, 2008

You are quickly becoming my hero.  Keep it up.


on Feb 25, 2008
Thanks for the kind words, guys. It feels almost like going to the confessional booth (not that I've ever done that, but a fella can imagine) writing this kind of stuff. I've written about my relationships on my blog before, but usually long after the demise of that relationship.

This is the most intimate writing I've ever published on my blog. Thanks for enjoying and not crapping all over it.
on Feb 25, 2008
Reminds me of when I was a young lad... a couple years ago...
on Feb 25, 2008
Reminds me of when I was a young lad... a couple years ago...

If I remember right we're either the same age or I'm a titch older, friend . . .
on Feb 25, 2008

HEY!  Every journal entry should be accompanied by photographs mister!  How can we live vicariously through you if there are no visuals.

on Feb 25, 2008
If I remember right we're either the same age or I'm a titch older, friend . . .

Age has little to do with how old one is, SanCho.
on Feb 25, 2008
I agree with all in here. Nice writing style, sweet and beautiful.

I do find it funny that while I think it's so cool the experiences you're having already I am a tad envious.   
on Feb 25, 2008
You man-whore.

Get on it! I want to hear nitty gritty details about kissing exhaust pipes! Come on, man, one of us has to be doing better relationship wise!
on Feb 25, 2008

Age has little to do with how old one is, SanCho.

Quit being enigmatic!

Get on it! I want to hear nitty gritty details about kissing exhaust pipes! Come on, man, one of us has to be doing better relationship wise! encouragement from a sibling I have ever seen!

If SanCho does...step it up a bit, you might not be so eager to hear all the details.


on Feb 25, 2008
If SanCho does...step it up a bit, you might not be so eager to hear all the details.

You underestimate the openness of our nutty little family.

I've heard things that would make your nose hair curl.

And I'm not telling.