As they say there are 3 sides to every story. Yours, mine and the truth. In the spirit of that the following 2 posts are his and my side of how we met and fell in love in Barcelona a little over a year ago. So what about the truth you might ask. I suspect it´s hiding somewhere in the middle.
In late may 2012 I decided to go to Barcelona on vacation. Too much work and the inevitable incapability to say no to do things that I want to do but didn´t have time for, had filled up all of my days for months, and had left me completely drained. So when I decided to go away on holiday it was to be by myself, exploring, photographing, relaxing and reading.
I had 10 days. I had planned it so that I had 2 days at a hostel in the city center and the rest of the holiday I was to spend at a hostel in the outskirts of the city. I had specifically been drawn to it because of the name, Feetup Garden house hostel, a name that promised exactly what I needed, time for relaxing and de-stressing.
The first 2 days I spent walking around Barcelona from 11 in the morning to 9 in the evening, walking everywhere and soaking up the southern, European big city atmosphere. When Wednesday arrived, and it was time for change of location, I was ready for some down time. I arrived at the hostel around 12 am and sat in the garden while waiting for the room to be ready. The garden was absolutely breathtaking, small cozy tables with lounge chairs and tall trees that provided plenty of shade and support for a comfy hammock. As I sat there waiting I decided to just take a day out of the calendar to stay and read. This might have proven to be one of the best decisions of my entire life. I sat in the garden, where I was reading my book `The Dice man´ by Luke Rhinehart. All was quiet, except for the wind in the trees and the birds. After some time I heard someone coming out from the door behind me, I looked up and politely nodded hello. He was tall, skinny and good looking, he had stretches in his ears and a Mohawk. I´ve always been a sucker for a Mohawk, so needless to say he got my attention. He sat down at the table next to mine, picked up his book, and started to read.
I usually don´t smoke except for special occasions where I sometimes enjoy a cigarette, but the excitement of the situation made me smoke more than I had planned, so within the 3-4 hours sitting there, I ran out of cigarettes. So around 7 pm, I got up to go down to the local bar to buy a fresh pack. At this time a pretty and confident looking girl had joined him at his table. As I walked by, I did my best to be casual and smiled to them. But my mind was working overtime. Was she his girlfriend, just a friend who happened to be a girl, or a random stranger? `Dang it´ I thought while I proceeded to go buy my cigarettes.
When I got back to the garden, I was relieved to see that they were still there. I passed their table in order to go back to my table, but then I stopped, `this is ridiculous´ I thought. So I took a deep breath, turned around and asked if I could sit with them. They said I absolutely could, so I sat down and we introduced ourselves. His name was Michael and she was Caitlin. I casually asked if they were travelling together and Michael answered that they went to the same University, they had been on a study trip around Europe and got the possibility to extend their stay by one week. Caitlin and another girl had planned to go to Barcelona, he had decided to join them, and they had just arrived the evening before. It was obvious in the way he replied that he wanted to make sure that I knew that she wasn´t his girlfriend without saying it out loud. Once we started chatting we didn´t stop and within 10 minutes I knew that `it´ was something, although I didn´t know what it was. I knew I was attracted to him both as a person and psychically, and I could feel that he felt the same way about me. We talked about everything that evening, about his experiences as a soldier, about music and movies, the wonders of Roller Derby and life in general.
As time passed, more people joined us at the table and conversations were going on around us, but we only had eyes and ears for each other. As evening turned into night people started drifting off to bed, but not wanting to miss a minute, we stayed up until finally around 3 am, I said that I had to go to bed, I had plans the next day and needed to get a bit of rest. He asked me about my plans, “I´m going to Parc Guell”, I said expecting him to know about it, but to my surprise he had never heard of it, so I told him what I knew. “wow, that sounds pretty cool” he said (or something along those lines), ”Maybe I´ll go there someday”…….. “well, do you wanna come with me?” The words had just slipped out of my mouth before I knew it and my heart was beating like a madman. I felt that I was being way too forward and was expecting him to make some excuse. To my surprise and relief the answer was that he´d love to go, so we agreed to meet in the morning.
The next day we went to Parc Guell, and like the night before we found ourselves with plenty to talk about. Finding the park proved a bit more difficult than expected, so we ended up walking up and down the mountain for a bit until we finally found it. It was a beautiful sunlit day and we took our time walking around seeing all there was to see. I think we were both quite content with making as much time as possible pass before leaving, and facing the possibility of having to say goodbye to each other for the day. We started to walk the streets without any plans just talking and enjoying each other’s company. I remember being confused, I knew without a doubt that he liked me, but through-out the day he had made no attempt at kissing me or holding my hand or anything of the sort, there hadn´t even been any awkward bumping into each other while walking. I thought that maybe he wasn´t attracted to me, that maybe he just thought that I was interesting and cool to hang out with… but the truth is that I´m really not that cool or interesting, so I quickly discarded that idea. We walked through the small streets of the old medieval city. When we got to a fork in the road, we´d randomly pick whatever direction seemed more interesting, and eventually made our way up to the area around Plaza de Catalunya in the newer part of the city.
We got back to the Hostel around 9 pm, and found a vacant table in the garden where we sat and talked. It didn´t take long before others started to join us, but I think they caught on to the fact that we´d probably rather be alone so they didn´t stay long. Around 1am he nervously said that there was something that he´d like to ask me and he hoped that it wouldn´t make things awkward between us, but he kept thinking that there was a point while we were at Parc Guell where he should have kissed me. I have a tendency to tell the truth when directly asked, even at times when I should probably just keep my mouth shut, so I told him that I didn´t really remember the moment he was talking about, but that there had been other moments when he definitely should have kissed me. He looked at me and said `yeahh´ and paused for a while not really knowing what to do, so I thought fuck it, and kissed him. We stayed up kissing, talking and holding hands until 3.30 am when I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open.
We had 5 blissful days together, where we spend every possible minute in each other’s company. After the first night apart I even asked him to sleep in my bed in the room I shared with 5 other people, even after only knowing him for a few days I felt that there was something missing when he wasn´t there. We went out every day exploring the city as well as each other, we talked about the future, kids and the possibility of him coming to Denmark to live, all the while knowing that we weren´t making any promises that we were just having a wonderful summer fling, but at the same time I was profoundly aware of the fact that I had never felt this way about anyone before, that I had actually thought that I wasn´t capable of feeling like this.
As the days passed and the time for us to say goodbye came closer, we often talked about not pinning any hopes and dreams on a relationship, we knew that we definitely wanted to stay in contact, but having a long distance relationship was not likely to work out, so we spend the last days soaking up each other’s company. We both had to leave on Tuesday, he in the morning, I in the afternoon. Our last evening together was spend in the TV room cuddling on the couch watching `Into the Wild´. I remember fighting not to cry every time I remembered that it was our last night together. I wanted to give him something to remember me by, so I took a smooth stone from the garden and drew a small heart on it with a black marker and gave it to him. The first and second evening I had constantly been rubbing one of those stones in my hands and we had made fun of it. I don´t know what to say, but I like stones, so it seemed like the perfect insignificant thing that I could give him, something that would be specific to me and our time together.
The day before, on Sunday, he had given me his last remaining dog tag. We had been talking and joking, when all of a sudden he got serious and said that there was something that he wanted me to have. He slowly lifted the chain off his neck, opened it and put it on me. He told me that he had been thinking about it for a couple of days and it seemed right. He had been wearing them for 11 years, 4 of those years were after his discharge and maybe it was ok for him to not wear them anymore. Needless to say I started crying like a baby. In comparison, the stone I had planned to give him, seemed stupid and worthless, but it was the best I had. The magnitude of his gift is incredible and shows beyond a doubt how great an impact I had made on him and how much he loves me. I still wear it every day and it will forever be the most valuable thing I own.
After we finished the movie on Monday night, we sat in the garden for the last time, talking about our time together, and the no pinning of hopes and dreams, but I knew, even if I wouldn´t admit it even to myself, that it was way too late for that. I warned him that I would probably cry my eyes out when he left in the morning, I´m an emotional critter and I cry easily.
But to my great surprise I didn´t. When the morning came, we got up and he got ready to leave. We stood in the door and hugged and kissed until he absolutely had to go, but there were no tears. The pain was too great and I was completely paralyzed. We said goodbye and I went to lay in my bed all cuddled up, and all I could feel was the huge void in my gut where he had been. I was so painfully aware that he was gone, but I couldn´t cry.
Check-out time was already at 12am so I asked Christian, a guy who worked at the hostel that we had gotten to know really well, if I could stay in the garden until I had to leave for the airport. I didn´t want to go into town to be constantly reminded of things that we had done, and I most certainly didn´t want to walk around the streets of Barcelona with people staring at me because I was crying. So I stayed in the garden, reading, crying and talking to Christian. The trip into the city was just as awful as I had imagined, but at that point the only thing that was important was getting away from Barcelona as quickly as possible.
Please share your own story of summer romance with us in the the comments.