Every time I fall asleep into that Land of Nod, I trip back into my seat on the coach bus back to Amsterdam. It is impossible to sleep erect on these seats that can incline but only when there is no one behind me. Every seat is filled and dark. Everyone silent with their eyes closed. A cough, a rustling and squeaking of seats. Blue lights aglow above their heads, except for mine is a bright halo of white above my knees where my notebook and pen lay waiting. There’s no where else for me to look. The window beside me is dark with miles of country side and outside the lights in the distant no more than the fading twinkling stars in the sky. My own reflection glares at me in that glassy black void. It’s rude to stare.
There are five cities – Artana, Valencia, Lleida, Barcelona, and Madrid. Our Spanish trip begins in Artana, where his family lives. We had left Paris to enter Barcelona by train, where Iker’s parents wait to pick us up. From there we enter the small town by freeway, which looks like any freeway in the States. As soon as we exit, the streets grow narrow. The sidewalks and even the stores look barren. The only thing full are the rows of dotted orange trees. I roll down the window and I can smell the sweet citrus in the air. Trees here are green and plenty. But for the empty town, I think ‘siesta,’ but it is Saturday at six pm.
The spotlight is on a city. A man in a thick wool coat sits and lights his third cigarette, sipping his coffee. The camera slowly pans out and you see that he is sitting in a crowded outdoor patio. Everyone is holding a cigarette. The camera pans out some more and you realize that they are all facing in one direction. Out. I sit at a corner table alongside them. Today, I am a part of this audience. The spotlight is on the city, and Paris is the most anticipated show.
How can such a beautiful city be so painfully cold and distant? I can’t help but to close my jacket and wrap my scarf a little bit tighter as I walk over to Piccadilly Circus. So tight, it’s difficult for me to soften up to the city. What good is beauty when I can’t bare to be in its presence.
Some say there is beauty and wisdom with age, and it is clear that London ages well. The majestic buildings with its molded pillars and chiseled facade line the streets of London, wide or narrow. Proud and strong. But not only is it cold in temperature but also in its pale complexion. Been here three days and not once have I seen the sun. And this is normal they say. A city forever hidden under the clouds and doused by rain. The concrete bleeding its color onto everything in its arms-length, maybe even onto its people.