still waters

“Let’s go for a ride.”

We’re in Barcelona. This is our second time here. The first time - just a year ago - we were both exhausted and stressed from work and felt like we just didn’t make the most of our time here. So we booked another trip with no way of knowing that the two weeks before this vacation would be spent in the dark and cold, trying to recover from a hurricane followed by a blizzard.

We are exhausted and stressed again. Sleep had been fleeting in the two weeks before we go there. Again, we feel we’re not making the most of our vacation time. Too tired to do too much sight seeing, unable to adjust the time difference while shadow boxing with insomnia, we stumble around the city like zombie tourists. Eat tapas. Drink coffee. People watch on Las Ramblas. Go back to hotel room, try to sleep.

But now we are at Port Vell and we’re trying to do the proper tourist things. We purchase tickets for a gondola ride around the harbour. A thirty minute tour.

We’re the first ones on the boat and we take a seat up top in the glorious Mediterranean sunshine. He puts his legs up and stretches out on the seat; I lean back into him and we stay like that in silence for a few minutes, letting the warmth of the sun and the slow movement of the water lull us into a sense of peacefulness.

While we wait for other passengers to board we talk quietly, almost whispering, I think out of fear of destroying the peace if we spoke any louder. We talk about the past, present and future. We talk about how our lives became entwined, about the desire to stay entwined forever. We make future plans, we contemplate our place in the world and think about doing bigger and better things.

The boat rocks, the sun beats down, tourists laugh off in the distance and birds swoop into the sea, looking for lunch. We stop talking. Both of us have our eyes closed.

Finally. A sense of peace. Something we have not felt in weeks. Something we never achieved the last time we were here. Peace. Serenity. Being at one with the world around us, with each other.

“Excuse me. I hate to bother you….”

A woman takes a seat next to us. She’s wearing a name tag. She speaks in halting English.

“You are the only passengers. No one else. Perhaps you can come back later?”

I stare at her for a second and then remember. We’re supposed to be going for a boat ride.

“I give you money back. You come ride free later. So we don’t have to take just two people?” She’s overly apologetic and I can tell she is hoping we understand what she’s telling us.

I smile to let her know I get it.

“It’s ok,” I say. “We’ll come back later.”

She smiles back at me.

“But can we just sit here a few more minutes?”

She nods. She gets it.

We sit back, let the sun and the sounds wash over us again, let the peace roll in amid our whispered conversation.

We never do go back for that boat ride.

No need. We already got what we came for.

Like what you read? Give Michele Catalano a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.