As I find myself grappling the past 6 months, I wonder with a nostalgic tone, what have I done? Nothing that takes rest in my heart has changed. I can still see myself, not so far in the past before he became my procrastination, sitting on that ugly green velvet chair (seriously, who covers chairs in crushed velvet matter?) thinking that only I, not fate, would determine my future.
But now, on this day, I am engulfed with an ache so encompassing that the sky above looks foggy; the air feels thick, and despite the Queensland summer heat, my bones feel cold. As I sit, I squeeze my eyes until they sting and imagine a world without Emilio. I do not need to imagine such a place. This was not fiction.
I could still feel the warmth from his breath like a shadow falling over my ear. “I love you Sadie”, he would whisper in a teasing, playful manner, “I am still alive for you my love”.
I found these overwhelming declarations sent giggles through my belly, and I loved the way he jumbled English into sweet sentences with such conviction, despite the thick accent. These moments were still so vividly clear. The moments when he stroked my brow, poured my hot tea, and gushed with a tangible tongue. How could someone with such little knowledge of English string together such romantic words as these?
Leaving Barcelona was always going to be onerous, but my fleeting romance was to remain just that, fleeting. In the realm of the ‘real’ world, Emilio posed to be a distraction. I had my plan mapped out perfectly. Yes, ok, so initially he was a small part of the scheme of things, I will happily admit to this. A holiday romance was harmless and fun, and if you were to ask my friends, exactly what I needed. I had mastered the art of detachment from a very young age, so this would not be a problem, I was sure of it. I had not written a single word in 4 months. For a writer, this was bad news. My publisher Eddie had given me an advance, which in my opinion was a stupid move.
Dear Eddie, The next time that you see me in your office filled with promises of a manuscript…soon… don’t believe me. I am blatantly lying to you and have done for several months now.
Now this foreign salty taste that was sliding over my tongue was not sitting very well with me at all. As I sit and force myself to recall what I had longed to forget, memories returned with little effort. The electricity was so perfectly wired the moment that we met.
Two cheeky boys followed me closely from behind as I entered the famous La Boqueria markets. They had chosen to prey on this unfamiliar tourist as they poked and prodded me, flashing big smiles and holding out their 10 year old palms, hopeful for coins, battering their large wide eyes. I was becoming flustered. There was so much to absorb. The light seemed to be diffused, and replaced with the most magnificent assortment of overpowering odours. The strong luscious, soft white cheeses were pulling me in one direction, only to be tormented by the seascape scent from the newly installed fish market in another. Fresh fruit & vegetables provided a colourful pallet, but I was finally lured in front of one of the many vendors offering freshly cured meats and condiments.
A tall, broad shouldered man came up from behind and tugged gently on one of the grubby ears that stood beside me, shoulder height. A scolding string of words followed, and I was suddenly left alone to continue deciphering the overhanging array of gourmet sausages. But I was not alone for long. His kind face stepped forward, sensing my confusion and spoke to me fast. His green eyes were adventurous and the way that his mouth twisted more to the left than the right when he spoke made him feel familiar.
Although clearly lacking in confidence or nonchalance, he walked with awkward steps, either to the side or backwards. If I as to muster this fascinating creature up into animal form, as I had a tendency to do with most people, Emilio was somewhat of a bounding Labrador puppy.
Within a few short moments, I was walking down an empty cobbled street with my new companion, spiced chorizo in hand and an invitation to dinner that evening. Yes, it was that fast. Now 28 days later, a longwinded farewell, a protest of love & patience and a promise to wait had been suggested. But I stood firm, and even though doubt was seeping in and my belly felt full although empty, I sat by his side in silence, waiting patiently for my taxi. I did not want a scene at the airport. So I was formalising my departure at the gates alone. This was difficult, but I was listening to the fire in my head instead of my heart.
Goodbye Barcelona. Hello again Australia.