There’s a focal point of these photos from my recent trip to Spain, and it isn’t the countryside of Granada. It is Diego, the doll faced little boy who people call “Rubio” at the market because of his sweet blonde hair. I wanted a way to introduce him and his family, to give a context for these photos. I thought this letter I wrote him on his 1st birthday would be perfect.
“I missed your birthday by less than two weeks. Your mother, 8 and one half months pregnant, took the bus with your father to meet us in Madrid. That is 5 hours of transportation, at a good clip; I’m always grateful for the lengths she and I go to in order to share a meal and a show or maybe a whole weekend if we’re lucky.
I remember every detail of that brief trip, a surprising fact as much of the touring tends to dissolve into one long stretch titled NOT AT HOME and/or IN CONSTANT MOTION. I remember checking into the hotel, a marble stretch of desk that almost reached my chin, the heavy fobs of the keys, the mirrored lobby and an elevator that could not contain us and our bags at the same time. I remember twin beds and ashtrays, a very small patio on the 8th floor that was not up to spec but that Damien insisted on standing on to see the view; the little pieces of evidence that Spain is of another time and place.
We had flown in from Dublin, and met up with your parents that same night. We walked around dark squares, settling in finally for churros with chocolate and sugar. We found a mariachi band, inexplicably. I tried to absorb as much of Madrid as I could, the noise and the museums of ham. The winding cobblestone streets which only your father could navigate. We had our own bubble-world for a few meals, one in which your mother and I could whisper and laugh while Damien and your dad spoke in a strange hybrid of spanglish, one that relied upon sign language at least 40% of the time.
We said goodbye at night, knowing the morning’s departure to Ferrol would be too chaotic for us. The shop next to our hotel had a cage of baby chicks in the window; I stared at it as we said goodbye to avert my eyes and perhaps cry a little less. Eleven days later, there was a you, sharing a birthday with my own father. I was in Copenhagen when I heard the news, that your dreamweavin’ momma had brought about her biggest dream to date. Every year I celebrate you + your beautiful family more and more. One day I’ll be in your southern pueblo for the occasion.”
With that, here are my ten days in Spain; 48 hours with Damien on tour and not enough hours vacationing at Diego’s family home. It might be my last international trip for a bit, but we’ll see. You never know with us vagabonds.
Accompanying [unfinished!] Spotify playlist for optimal viewing of the images. Promise me you’ll at least listen to track one with the photos.
[+ post script: in that 4th frame, we are staring out at AFRICA in the distance. seeing it in person for the first time was a visceral experience, a gut longing to go travel on a continent i had never even laid eyes on before. so, as i said, the pause on adventure travel is still TBD.]