Ever since I can remember, the arrival of the month of August has reaffirmed that if Time were to take animal shape, she’d be a Cheetah. Now is when I overhear neighbors and congregation members and fellow grocery-liners say to each other, “Can you believe it’s August? Where has the summer gone?” Indeed, it’s melted away faster than a cherry popsicle on the sidewalk. And suddenly, to many a youngster’s chagrin, the Back-to-School signs are up and parents merrily purchase Trapper-Keepers and pencil boxes and Hello Kitty backpacks.
While the sticky green and sunny heat is still upon us, I secretly get the urge to smell a pumpkin candle. Just a sniff. Then back in the box it goes until fall is official. But August is the turning point—when the craving for Kool-Aid and watermelon dwindles and you get butterflies at the sight of lunchboxes and pencil erasers. Call me crazy, but I know at least two other people who will back me up on this August phenomenon.
To be fair, a small percentage of this could be blamed on my recent return from summer vacation. I’d been anticipating my fortnight in Barcelona since the year began! Now that it’s come and gone, my summer feels complete and ready to sprint off for another planetary cycle. So how was Spain, you ask? Well, I can tell you in one word: Magic.
But being a word-devotee and lover of gluttonous descriptions, I’ll bypass my better judgment to be Hemingway-esque and give you a few details. Barcelona is like that one girlfriend who’s a little bit naughty, a little bit saintly, and always up for a good time. I don’t think I can name another big city in the world that feels so hometown. And truly, it does.
The Spaniards were incredibly warm and welcoming. In a short time, I nearly forgot I wasn’t a native! Wishful thinking, I suppose. But that’s what the city does to you, woos you into wanting to be part of her.
I did a lot in Spain, so I don’t think I could name my favorite. La Sagrada Familia took my breath away. The Casa Batllo made me feel like a child in a fairytale. The 1992 Olympic stadium was awe-inspiring. Montjuic was truly a lighted castle on a hill. Barceloneta Beach was all sunshine and laughter. Montserrat was so close to heaven, I had to pinch myself. Camp Nou stadium had my husband giddy as a schoolboy. Park Guell was like walking through wonderland.
But despite doing and seeing so much, I think the one thing that most imprinted on me was the everyday living: walking home from the market with my vegetables, fruits and cuts of ham; taking a moment to be in the audience as singers, artists, acrobats, and dancers performed on the street; eating grilled gambes (shrimp) and sucking the salty brine from the shells; laying beside the Mediterranean while the sun kissed my cheeks; laughing and telling stories with my family over glasses of wine at the end of the day.
Like I said: Magic.
But now that it’s over and I’m back home at my laptop, I feel the summer waning. This has nothing to do with the weather either. El Paso will stay 90 degrees until Thanksgiving. No, it’s just a feeling inside. Perhaps it’s my ingrained Virginia seasonality. There, right now, the trees are heavy with green, and the air is so humid and blistering full, it makes your head swim. Virginia gets like this in August, making you dream of the first cool September night when the leaves decide it’s finally time and burst into colorful fall.
In Barcelona, the trees lining La Rambla were already changing to gold at the tips and falling underfoot.
Yours truly, Sarah