I’m in Spain right now, sitting in a home crammed perilously into the side of a very old cliff, perhaps 500′ or more above the Mediterranean Sea below. It’s quite a scene, I must admit. There have been some realizations this trip, the sort that I would have rather not realized. This is the danger of living out some of your dreams: often dreams are the most spectacular and rewarding when they’re only dreamt. For instance, I’ve now eaten paella at five different restaurants both in Barcelona and in the myriad seaside villages of Costa Brava. The verdict? I’m better at paella than the Spanish. This was, at first, just a theory I had. Then, one by one the restaurants fell and in the end, I declared myself the victor. I take no pride in this victory.
I’m still in the lounge chair, still perched on the edge of this cliff still wondering how this villa was permitted to be occupied without any reasonable effort made to protect its inhabitants from falling to their deaths. It’s a good thing I don’t drink as any level of inebriation would render this villa absolutely fatal. I’m wondering how there are so many mosquitos up here, on the side of this cliff, where the only standing water is that deep blue sea. How could mosquitoes exist in this desert climate? And why are they so incredibly militant? They’re faster than our mosquitoes, louder than our mosquitos (it’s the wing speed, obviously), and they’re much more ankle happy than our mosquitoes. I find our mosquitoes almost pleasant in comparison.
The flies are worse yet. They’re quick. They’re small. They’re irritating. I swat at them on the patio of breakfast cafe’s and my wife tells me I’m being “annoying”. What’s annoying are these bugs, and I told her if some older Spanish gentleman with swarthy skin, an old dog and an older cane, was swatting at flies it would make him a comfortably endearing sort. Yet when I violently swat at the flies I’m just being annoying. I’m acting American, she says, which is good because I am thoroughly and insanely so.
How can I rest on the side of this cliff? The Aiguablava beach is probably full of cigarette smoking topless women right now. But that’s not on my mind. I’m thinking about Lake Geneva and how it’s almost 8 am at home. I’d be at my desk on a typical Monday, sorting through this and thinking about that. I’d be present, that’s for sure. But when I’m here how can I be present? It’s only 8 am and so I must think about the 8 am things. Tonight, over dinner of fried squid or grilled langoustines (clumsily called lobsters here, even though they also call real lobsters lobsters), I’ll be thinking about how it’s only noon at home. How can I live at 7 pm here when I know it’s only noon at home? Awkwardly, that’s how.
Later still, it’ll be dark and this big villa will be quiet, except for the odd bumps and whistles that come from the other rooms. Our seaside bedroom door doesn’t lock but I have a small statue of a woman’s head that I put in front of the door so that if someone were to break into this place (or just use the key they probably have) they’d have to at least knock over the marble head before (more than likely) using it to bludgeon me and my wife. I’ll be in that bed, wrestling with sleep on top of the hardest mattress that humanity has ever known, and I’ll be wondering how I can sleep when it’s barely 3 pm in Lake Geneva. The sun is still shining, for crying out loud, and yet here I am, tucked into this stone bed on the side of this cliff? Never mind, I suppose. In the morning I’ll wake up in the middle of the Lake Geneva night, and that 787 will bring me home. Then I’ll go to sleep in my comfortable bed in my house that makes only familiar sounds and I’ll wake up wondering how I could be just now waking up when it’s already the middle of the afternoon in the house on the side of the hill.