“You’re always searching for that perfect moment,” David said.
I cocked my head, processing the words slowly. A group of us, strangers who had become quick friends at our hostel, were perched atop the cross in Park Guell, which is the highest point in the park. The group was quite diverse, comprised of 2 Canadians from Winnipeg, 2 Australians from Queensland, and myself. We had just set up our picnic in time to watch the sun as it began to set. With plastic wine glasses in our hands and mouths full of ibérico ham against a backdrop consisting of gorgeous 360 degree views of Barcelona, we were absolutely ready to live in our collectively co-created perfect moment.
His words rung true to my ears.
This magical moment, accidental in nature, was exactly what I dreamed of orchestrating and sharing with my new friends during our time together in Barcelona. Not the actual picnic itself as that was just the natural thing to do since we all loved to eat anyway... but the bringing together of the right ingredients to create the feeling that something special yet intangible was happening. Best of all, I wasn't the only one who felt it. We all did. Sharing this with one other connected the dots.
The atmosphere was electric with our laughter and joyous spirits. We would end up talking, drinking, and joking around for hours past sunset. Towards dusk, a Spanish musician would set up near us to add sultry jazzy sounds that faded in and out of our group consciousness, as if he knew we needed a soundtrack to our perfect moment. By night, as the city lights of Barcelona lit up, the crowd that had been sitting atop the cross since sunset had quietly dispersed behind our backs. Who knew when they had left? But it was right as we decided to get up to snap some photos of the horizon. It was just in time. Funny how that works, right?
There, as we were, I wished that I could fully encapsulate the hours we shared into a photograph so that we could revisit it over and over in the future. It was hard to imagine a better place to be than exactly where we were, doing what we were doing, seeing what we were seeing. Everything turned out perfect, and that's an outcome you can't really plan for.
“You know, this is going to be that moment we all remember forever from this trip,” David continued.
We all nodded in agreement. In silence, I continued to marvel at the fact that someone who I met just yesterday was already able to get such a clear read on me. It was bone-chilling how accurate it was. It warmed my soul.
In a few short days, we would all be parting ways to continue on our respective travels. Normally, this would sound sad but in our cases, it lent an extra sweetness to it all. That’s the thing about traveling alone - you come to recognize the beautiful and transient nature of all things, people included. With the understanding that nothing lasts forever, you often find yourself connecting quickly, sometimes quite deeply, with people you may or may not ever see again. Maybe it's the level of distanced anonymity we can retain through brevity of contact? Or fearlessness in the face of a lack of judgment or knowledge of your past? Whatever it is, the friendships you create abroad are open, honest, and have a certain levity as the result of the brief but fun times shared together. These unique bonds can exist without expectation, serving as a welcome breath of fresh air against American lifestyles characterized by obligations and rules.
"Cheers to Barcelona, guys!"
Instead of yearning for what was, we clinked our plastic wine glasses as best we could, savored our time, and prepared for the next adventure to come.