It's Sunday, a big day for rotisserie chicken and chips here in Spain. I hoped to find some, but didn't have the energy to go down to the Mediterranean to HM's favorite cheapie. I paced the streets of the old quarter instead, hoping to find a good lunch spot.
But it's Sunday, and Spain is closed on Sunday, except for restaurants overflowing with families and friends out for a meal.
What a great idea, to set aside Sunday for family and rest.
Unless you're alone.
Looking in at all those friends and families, laughing and enjoying each other's company, I was reminded of an email I got from the Other Marie a few days ago.
"I can't help but be a little jealous. I always thought I'd be the one out there doing what you're doing. But I remember how lonely it is."
The Other Marie was born in Scotland, grew up in Italy, and spent a few years in Spain along the way. She administered study abroad programs for a major student-exchange organization for years and now does it at a university in upstate New York, where she lives with her husband and two kids.
It's so good to have someone just get it without even saying anything. That's one thing that is so great about the Other Marie. I didn't even complain and she knew.
Yes, it's lonely living this way. Being a transient has its good points, of course. Not everyone gets sent to Egypt to set up a comic book company, or runs off to Uganda to live in the jungle with a man they met in Sudan. Or has a flat they rent sometimes--in Spain.
But the problem with being a worker-nomad is that you aren't quite here, and aren't quite there. Your friends at home have lives, which continue on without you, to where you just aren't a part of them anymore. The transient friends you meet on the road are temps, mostly, and after a while you can't even be bothered to make new ones. Your best friend is rectangular and white and has backlighting.
When I was in Barcelona this past spring, I met my-then beau here. He was abruptly recalled by the factory a short time later, but we had a lovely visit before his warranty expired. And when I lived here in 2004, my pal Lynne was working just up the coast in Mataro, and HM visited for about three weeks total of the 90 days that I was here. And Fiona came to visit once, as did Nikki. When Nikki arrived, we rented a car and drove up and down the coast. Nothing lonely about that trip.
And this time, when I bought my ticket with a stopover in Barcelona, it didn't occur to me that I didn't know anyone here.
I'm not saying I'd rather I had a normal job and no passport. Just that for all the excitement of a life on the road, it has its downsides. Loneliness and alienation are par for the course, the price one pays for the ability to move freely without responsibilities at home.
Am I saying I dislike living this way? Not at all. It isn't really up to me any longer. Fate cornered me. I fought it for a while, but it gave me a headache. Resistance is futile. If I weren't here, I'd wish I were.