postcards from jenna
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Postcards from Jenna shares stories and artwork from inspiring places around the world. 

All of the postcards are written by me, Jenna, and illustrated by a local kindred spirit I met while traveling.

One limited edition postcard is mailed to anyone who signs up for one, anywhere in the world. It’s a gift. It’s free. It’s something to keep.

Now please find a quiet spot, allow yourself to have a moment, and continue below to experience the magic of each of these places.

 

 BUENOS AIRES

Postcards by Jenna Matecki
Artwork by Toni Copani

 
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01

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The moon and the stars
Hang in the sky around  
The airplane's wing
I sit among them  
Looking out at
What should be 3am over Bolivia

The couple seated next to me
Seem very nice, they're huddled together
Sound asleep, wrapped in their blankets

The Panamanian flight attendant and I
Had a 2:30am conversation when I waited for the clean bathroom
This frequent flier had no problem with my subsequent
Unabashed consumption of all of the water that was in a giant bottle on the kitchenette shelf
We're among the only
People who are awake here and he knows
better than anyone
how dehydrated we all are

I wanted to be asleep but
Squishing my nose into the window indentation, and then into the armrest/tray table trying to achieve the level of comfort this couple has next to me
Rendered that impossible
You and your wife would be that couple -
Snuggled up together, cute and prepared for a red eye and somehow able to sleep soundly
The only thing missing would be your muppet dog splayed out across your laps, and perhaps a tennis ball rolling down the aisle, and that old gum box you use as a kibble holder stuffed into the seat back pocket in front of you

I'm more like the man belonging to row 16, seat F, who keeps on getting up to stand and  
Stare blankly into the abyss of an unknown point on the starboard side of the fuselage
Rubbing the back of his head

I find myself thinking about whether or not I should later ask you
What the blinking lights on the edge of the airplane wing do
And if there’s a morse code type of game associated
Kind of like the nonsense we made up when we were kids
I'm tempted to make one up anyway:

Ok,
Read this very carefully:
Every 14th blink you have to say the first thing that you're grateful for, as fast as you can
Go


And, as you already know,
The first thing that came to mind as I sit here and write this and stare out at those lights and listen to the engine
Was you and your wife

I need to record your sunny voices saying "Good morning!"
And set it as my ringtone

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02 

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You would have loved the charm
Of this backyard dinner party in Núñez
It was thrown by a friend of a new friend who wore
A denim apron

There was a canopy of string lights and giant green leaves growing everywhere
Save for a corner where a couple pink roses latched onto a white wall in a near fatal attempt in the name of beauty

At one of the long tables I sat across from
A legend who said much more with his eyes than his mouth
And an artist with short bangs an a septum ring
Next to another one with a surfing habit and a theory that hands have their own set of memories

What they all had in common
Was the way they made eye contact when they listened to you
How they leaned in real close when either of you spoke

Throwing an arm around you when flipping through beloved photos of Costa Rica, their outrageous electric bills, and kids

They made you instantly feel that  
You're part of the porteño club now
The induction ceremony occured when you walked in
Past locks and keys, through a sea of cheek kisses, underneath yellow hallway lights  
It ended the first time they lovingly made fun of you over sips of malbec

Before you know it you'll actually understand their version of spanish,
And start 'sending fruit' around  
Like a pro

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Mandar Fruta ‘to send fruit’
origin: porteño slang
meaning: 1) to bullshit 2) to say something nonsensical and silly

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03

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A security guard at an iron gate
Stopped two tween girls who were trying to walk in to
Cementerio de la Recoleta
Recoleta’s famous cemetery

The guard asked if their parents were around
It seemed a little strange to me –
That parental supervision would be required for a cemetery
But I guess the subject matter of WE ALL DIE SOMEDAY
Or THESE ARE A BUNCH OF DEAD PEOPLE
Could be a little dark and necessitate a parent to give a back rub at the right times or
Point out all of the beautiful details like

How the rows and rows of mausoleums
Are reminiscent of a library, an
Outdoor library
How the floor of the entire place is covered with square tiles that “clank” when you walk on them

How a bronze statue of a young woman and her dog
Is discolored from enough people
Petting the dog’s nose

How there are fun tourists everywhere, clamoring to see graves
Including a man who chose to wear a ghostbusters t-shirt

The only people that I caught a glimpse of at the cemetery
Who had a different kind of purpose to be walking around apart from aesthetics, travel guides, and Eva Perón
Were two old, thin women
They were dressed very nicely
They both had white, puffy hair and giant rimmed glasses
They were off to the side, talking loudly so they could hear each other
One handed the other a key while
Looking down

It made me wonder who they were visiting
Where the key led
What that person meant to them
If they felt their time was
Time left
I wanted to give them both a hug
I wanted to mention
That I saw a mausoleum at the other end of the aisle
It had delicate ferns inside that were
Well kept and alive
They were
Watered from the sky and
Big fat tears from
All the loved ones who still cared
That this person was once here and then gone, vanished
To a place above, below, or between these traces at Recoleta
Back
Into the good air
That we’re all
Still breathing

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04

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I’d love to say
That I have a stomach of steel
That I can travel anywhere and eat new food, in new countries, with no problems
But last night was evidence
That I certainly can’t

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05

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I called a car
Because I was running late
Gustavo pulled up in a 2-door pickup truck.
I climbed up and sat next to him

When learning a language
You try to converse with as many people as possible
This augmented by my general extroversion
Meant that we ended up getting into a conversation
That in the beginning centered on traffic,
the pizza in Buenos Aires
And Gustavo asking about New York

He spoke really fast and for the large part, I understood
When learning a language
You concentrate so hard on each individual word and you start to recognize
Which words certain people like to use
Gustavo had a preference for the word lio – 
Mess.
Gustavo described almost everything we talked about as lio – 
The traffic?
Lio.
Buenos Aires pizza?
A lio of cheese with no sauce
Is New York a lio like Buenos Aires?
Yes, in different ways.

As we bounced around in his truck
We also covered what wasn’t lio according to Gustavo – 
After each of the things he mentioned I noticed that
I myself ended up using the same word over and over again –
fantástico.

Gustavo’s favorite Argentine city named Tigre where people party on boats all the time?
Ooo! ¡Fantástico! I will go.
The Bosques de Palermo park in the center of the city which is the only place Gustavo feels truly calm?
Yes, fantástico. It’s important to have those places.
Gustavo’s admiration of strong women who know what they want?
I’m sure they love you too, Gustavo. Fantástico.

Our conversation was
A variety of topics with no real coherence but
One could also describe it as
Un lio fantástico – 
A fantastic mess.

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06

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“This is one of my favorite places,” Sergio said
We were standing barefoot in the middle of
The world’s widest river
Looking out into the horizon towards
Uruguay
At that moment it felt like
Río de la Plata had me by the ankles
Our feet were covered in the softest wet clay, calm waves lapping up against our knees
As we both bent down to scoop up the river sediment in our hands and let it fall between our fingers
Sergio told me about his love of tango, the teenagers he teaches at the local university,
His son’s clear blue eyes.
As we took careful steps through the mud
Sergio pointed out reeds on the river banks, cranes flying in the sky
We both laughed when he joked that we were walking on water
Our conversation was the only sound apart from
The river pushing and pulling around our feet
We were alone in the emptiness that surrounded us
Save for capybaras that we couldn’t see in the reeds
Fish that we knew were in the delta
A profound peace for kilometers of shallow water, this
Río de la Plata, that gave life to millions of people under southern constellations
Gave us an empty palette
A place where each of our thoughts had a color
Where each silence
Was something you could hold on to 

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07

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They said Buenos Aires
Was the Paris of Latin America
I find this phrase to be misleading
Buenos Aires is the Buenos Aires of
Buenos Aires
Dog poop on the sidewalks included
Polluted harbors and confusing side streets and words that sound like ‘shh’ included

Don't get me wrong here
This far away place is growing on me
Kind of like mate tea or
Those stores in Palermo that sell only dried fruit (how do they make money?!)

There are things that I love
A martial arts school in Las Heras Park
The tree shadows on the pathways at Usina
My evenings with Wesley but especially when
He made a soup so we could pretend it was still fall

That is to say there are reasons
Behind why I lie to locals when they ask me how it's going
I wanted to immediately fall for this place
But what I've found so far is that this
Buenos Aires is a mixture of a bunch of other ideas
The people here collage and paste up the parts they choose
The mystery is in not what is theirs but what they adapted and why
What they found and glued together
Stickiness at the seams, bread without spice
I'm slowly peeling back the layers one by one
I'm looking for genuine answers in those papers
I'm coming up a little lost

Like a child peering into a kaleidoscope unable to focus on just one thing
Knowing it's supposed to be pretty
Trusting that with a deep breath and time
She'll start seeing patterns that match
The birdsong outside

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08

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Today:
Alarm clock
Mate tea
Sneeze
Keyboard clicks
Doors opening and closing
Chrome buses with neon lights
Pigeons talking to each other
Little boy running up the sidewalk
His mother running behind him
Professional call where I quoted a rate
Personal call where I yelled “happy birthday!”
A dog named Roquero breathing
Old fashioned can opener on a can of chickpeas
Yawns
Spring shivers

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09

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Electronic dance music was playing loudly
Bright lights were in my face
As I lay in the dentist’s chair in Recoleta
Living life a month at a time in a different place
Means you still have to have the mundane, yet important things done
Like getting your teeth cleaned, in Buenos Aires

The dentist and her technician
Sang along to a chorus
That would have been heard in Ibiza or at one of the many
Coachella-like festivals
It drowned out the hum of their toothbrushes and drill things
Or the whooshing noise that came from the spit tube in my mouth
The snap of a latex glove

I didn’t really know what was going on exactly between my molars
But I felt a kind of relaxed
That I didn’t expect to feel
When I had a giant plastic lip stretcher in my mouth
That rendered me unable to not smile

The funny thing is
Given how surprisingly enjoyable this was for all of us
Among heavy bass beats and mint
I would have anyways

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10

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Toni is the kind of person
Who, if you walk into a room,
She’ll get up from her chair
And step over in her black sneakers
Just to give you a kiss on the cheek and
Wish you good morning

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11

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I was in line at the photo shop
Behind a bunch of photographers with cameras in hand
And that Beatles song “Because” came on the speakers
I can’t tell you how amused I was
That instantly everyone started swaying along
As if the entire room became candle wax
As if they were living inside the film they came to develop
And they suddenly found themselves in a bath
Of chemicals

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12

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The green footbridge over the train tracks
That connects Avenida Dorrego with Guatemala
Is my favorite place
In all of Buenos Aires
I discovered it while walking home
After a weekend afternoon spent with my hands covered in ink
During a magic hour when the sun set
And casted the sky and the bright green trees and gravel plants
All in a glowing pink, as if
One of those graffiti artists who tagged the walls here
Got a big can of neon spray paint and
Clouded up the scene
After she would stop and look at it with her head slightly sideways, admiring the view,
Proud that it came from her

The footbridge is suspended against two switchback ramps on either side
Creating an effect similar to the long lines at a stadium
Where the line snakes back and forth
So people walking up or going down pass by each other, slightly higher or lower

When I was making the climb
At one point I almost kissed a dog that was on the ramp ledge that was higher than me
We were at face height with each other
He kept on walking back and forth between the members of his group
Making sure everyone was together for the journey ahead

There was a baby girl in a stroller with a giant bow in her hair
Who I passed on my second turn up
She smiled serene, staring out at her little universe, kicking her feet

Once I was at the top
Walking across the straightaway, past the power lines
I thought of you, and I wanted to send this scene your way
So you could see how I’m living
This minute above the train tracks
Is what I want the answer to be for
What my day was like -
How I walked across
the hours before dusk

 
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13

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11pm night owls in
Reposera chairs on the sidewalk
Quick to laugh
Genuinely
Unafraid
of anything

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14

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I tied my shoelaces
Against a brick pillar with a plaque that mentioned
That a prison once stood here -

I was in a park that was filled to the brim with cheerful faces
Families picnicked and children played soccer in
A leafy living room sixty years free from
Pointless bars -

Where hopelessness once reigned
Friends now lay together in the grass
Looking at the sky and
Talking about their days

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15

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You're there between your arms,
The box around your face
Steady eyes that look back at me
Measurements from the color brown
You're a rebel with
A forbidden t-shirt
A class act in a place that's
Covered in dust
A patient leader for group of people in Villa Crespo who all know,
Because of you,
How to pack a punch

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16

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It’s the way a new friend nods when you tell them your life story
They knew your character upon meeting you
What they now learned is the way you put it together –
How your intricate feathers
Became a wing

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17

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The dance between
What we dream for ourselves
And reality:
A spider in a web
And a piece of hair
Love
And a world that accepts sorrow
Tango
And a couple busking on the street in San Telmo

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18 

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The women who founded Ushuaia
Swam in this cold, green water
Hunting for seafood
Their hands waved through the still
Of a crystalline shore
At the edge of the world before Antarctica
They made their homes on seashell bays, their
Stories lit fires
In a place where
A tree that is 89 years old
Is still a teenager
Where a sunset sings
Every shade of blue
Where a glacier holds
A cup of water

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19 

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Buenos Aires,
I sneezed out a lot of pollen
Yet tasted flowers
I looked for art and instead found
Datos de color
Colorful details
Positive notes
Like a well-timed joke
Or a good story that
Even at the end
Still feels
Unfinished

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BARCELONA

Postcards by Jenna Matecki
Artwork by Mariano Pascual

 
 
 
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01

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Mercantic
In Sant Cugat del Vallès
Is an antique village
On the outskirts of Barcelona
There are many different shops
Selling everything from new
Woodblock prints
To old radios from the 1950s and even
Hand-painted green boxes
From Kashmir
Weaving in and out of the stalls there
Was almost too much to look at
Just as I was about to give up
I met Patcho

Patcho is Luís-from-the-furniture-shop's
“Little friend”
A pet, puppy, or shall I say mascot
That brings joy to Luís’ days

Patcho has a patch of brown over his left eye
(Perhaps his namesake)
There’s white wiry hair
All over his 8-month-old Bogeduero body
His demeanor is the kind
Children imagine when they long
To have a dog

As soon as Patcho meets you
He quickly lacks the conviction to properly assess
Whether or not you’re a predator
Patcho will proudly show his pink belly
And gnaw gently on your wrist or ask
You to hold his bone for him
He’ll push it towards you with his wet nose while
Pulling back his ears and
Wagging his tail

Another vendor from the market
Came over to pet Patcho while we were playing
He told me that Patcho often hides his bones
In other vendors' stalls
And only goes back to check on them
As soon as the vendors head out to lunch or
Become engaged in trying to make a sale
Patcho thinks he’s so stealthy
He often moves the bones around
To avoid being caught
The people who picked up on this
Masterful plan
Were the Japanese stall vendors who are
Very minimalist

I suggested to Patcho’s storyteller
That perhaps Patcho is the
Guardian of the market
The spirit of the place
Where people sell once-forgotten things
The one who remembers
Good bones

As I said this
The man grew thoughtful
He looked into the distance
And nodded

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02

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I went to this Barcelona cafe named
SABIO INFANTE - the wise infant
Because the one I intended to go to is
Closed on Monday mornings
I ordered an American coffee
and, strangely enough, 
Nachos
Those nachos may be
The best breakfast I’ve ever had
Listen to this:
The nachos were perfectly triangular
Yellow bits of crushed corn
With thousands of tiny granules of salt on them
They were piled high in a big black bowl
That had two handles
Among these warm flakes of gold
There were
Globs of guacamole, with bits of cilantro, greens,
and raw onion mixed in
It was refreshing somehow
Then there was this clump, this mixture
Of black beans
Because they were smooth and stirred together
They looked almost purple
Then, oh then
There was this red tangy sauce
The menu gave me no clues
About its secret ingredients
I couldn’t tell you
The first thing that was in this
Red tangy sauce
This mystery was artfully spooned
Over this
Temple of nacho
In a way that would have made
Jackson Pollock proud
Last there was a
Pico de gallo that had
Small cubes of tomatoes
And mango (mango!) lovingly chopped together
This pico was the final dose of surprise
That raised these chips to
The ultimate level of nacho perfection
Salty, sweet, tangy, smooth
My satisfied crunches
From 10am
 

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03

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I did not make the right
Time estimate for when I was going to call you after you texted me with
Exciting news
Such as it is when you’re
In the midst of traveling in Catalonia
But I wanted to keep my word that we’d talk that day
Because that’s important always but especially when
You’re talking to someone you’re close with
So I sent you a message
Just as I set out to drive
From Llançà to a restaurant at the top of Cap de Creus national park near Cadaqués
To meet some old friends
I didn’t know if my International phone plan would work
So I relied on the intermittent 4g and WhatsApp
To connect us
You were so excited
About a new crush of yours
I was thrilled that you chose
To share this with me
Particularly because
There is only a select group of people
That I feel comfortable sharing that kind of information with
So while I drove and the roads became more and more winding
And the wind blew harder
I needed to keep both hands on the wheel so I pinned my speaker phone
Between my shoulder and my cheek
I drove the gorgeous seaside mountain roads
With a lopsided view
And did my best
To give you my full attention
Our happy exclamations
And girl talk about how strange men are spilled out of
The open windows of my rental car
Down the steep cliffs past the
Olive trees, shrubs, and cacti
Into the
Bright blue waters of the
Mediterranean
Thank you for your patience
With the phone connection that meant
An awkward lag between when you finished saying something
And when I responded
And dropped calls
That increased in number
When the elevation of my rental car climbed higher and higher
Thank you for not seeming to care
That we had to restart our conversation
5 times
While I was carefully zooming along
One time my phone was so confused it
Mistakenly thought it was in France
And sent a slew of 5 texts in French
Welcoming me to the region and mentioning there may be more charges on my phone bill
I did pull over into a dirt farmer’s path on the side of the road towards the top of the mountains when reception was good and the sun began to set
As it grew dark I turned the car’s headlights on
Stalled there on the side of a steep mountain road
On a little path that was probably whacked before America was founded
A few nice drivers slowed down as they drove past me and gesture-asked if I needed help
I signed back that all was good
I learned that Catalan people are really considerate drivers even on
Dangerous mountain roads
That would normally have caused me to be quiet and focus
But they were a piece of cake to navigate and I laughed a lot
Because we were talking about the differences between boys and men
Because you chose to share with me
What was going on in your life during a special summer that you’re spending interning at a company in London and
How excited you were about this guy you were talking to
I allowed myself to be proud that
You knew that I was
On a Mediterranean mountainside driving to meet up with
Some old friends in a part of the world
That is so far away and different from where
We’re both from, living my life
As a traveler with few possessions going with and against
The culture of these ages in a way that
You think is cool
I was proud that you wanted to
Ask for my advice
And that you chose to spend your time
With me

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04

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It was really fun to watch the World Cup in Barcelona
There was this one warm July night when Wesley and I were watching the game between
Belgium and Brazil – 
Wesley’s a big soccer fan
Being a man from the Netherlands and we had fun
Chatting about the game and I had fun
Asking him beginner questions about things like offsides rules
We were at a charming restaurant in El Born
That had orange flowery wallpaper on the walls and soft light bouncing around and
They took all the tables and pushed them up against the walls and
Set up all the chairs in rows
Like at a school recital
The doors to the space where taken off
So it felt like we were half inside, half outside
There was a projector which was nice because
It meant that everyone could really see what was going on there were
At least a hundred people packed in this tiny room
The bartenders had their work cut out for them
And I remember being impressed at how quickly they poured glasses of wine and
Uncapped beers
Wesley and I stood in the back
And cheered with the rest of them
What was especially nice was that this restaurant/bar/place
Sold fresh frozen fruit pops
So many of the soccer fans enjoyed flavors of watermelon and passion fruit and strawberry while
Swearing at refs  
People only stopped enjoying these heavenly pops when
something good or bad happened
Or to dance with flags
To mock cry when something went wrong
To celebrate and sing, arm in arm with strangers
 

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05

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Besalú is a medieval pueblo
An hour and a half north of Barcelona
Its cobblestone streets share with you
That enough tourists come here
For shops to sell miniature wooden swords
And shields for children
There’s a small river – El Fluvià
That runs through the town
A local chastised me
When I described it as being small and said
That way back when it was big enough for
Ships to pass through
It was a warm day so
People were swimming in the river
Including a topless woman
Who seemed to look at everyone else
More than they looked at her
There were many birds flying in the sky
Skimming the river
Picking off mosquitos
One by one
There were also ducks
They floated in packs
I wish one could have allowed me to
Pet its cute yellow bill
The closest I got
Was when one thought my red toenails were food
And waddled over curious with its friends
It nipped a bit at my toes before I
Gently pulled them away
And decided to head to
the town of Besalú’s famous bridge
There was a man in the middle of the bridge
Sitting on a stool and playing guitar
He knew how to create a moment
It felt romantic bathing in those
Hollow sounds
I imagine it did too
For a group of teenagers I saw
They were laughing together
And for the man who was holding my hand
And a woman who was carrying her small child
High on her shoulders
That kid had the best view of
The town of Besalú 
Of the ducks and river below
Of the many houses and trees
Stacked on top of each other
On a mountain
Adorned in yellow and red flags
That blew in the wind

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06

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I know that you have a particular affinity
For things from the past
And given that I’m currently living in Catalonia
I’m going to write to you a bit about Salvador Dalí. 
The thing I didn’t know or notice
Before I lived here
And saw this dude’s art and photos everywhere
Is that Salvador Dalí
Was a very attractive man
He was attractive in the same way
That forbidden-artsy-rebel guy from high school
That you had a crush on still is, or was for you at the time, attractive
(We’ll never know because both this fictional high school boy and Salvador Dalí are people that we cannot or will not talk to again for fear of destroying this imagined hype)
This Salvador Dalí that I’m imagining is
Based on a few photos I saw
He’s the kind of guy who pulled off long hair
And could successfully go a few days without showering
And not look gross
Who could paint really strange absurd art
Or share a cheesy platitude that is supposed to be profound
And still have it be interesting (or forgiven)
He could overdress and wear a comical mustache that turns up at the ends
Or make funny faces
Or smoke like a chimney
Or direct a trippy film
Or tell you bizarre stories that have no real punchline
And still pull it all off in a way where you might be compelled to say yes when
Salvador Dalí asks you out on a date
You'll spend the day at the zoo
For dinner afterwards
You'll go to some gaudy hole in the wall restaurant with red velvet cushions
You’ll listen to his charming accent
While sipping on a bright orange cocktail that features some alcohol you’ve never tasted
Time will melt away in the way that you
Kind of don’t believe your phone clock when you check it and it says it’s 3am and you remember to click over to your messaging app to send
A note to a friend just to let her know
That you’re fine and not in a car trunk somewhere
 

 
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07

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There is a stone farmhouse in Beuda
That was built in the 1200s, it looks
Like rocks were found somewhere and just
Piled on top of each other
It works well somehow
Rock piles on a country hillside
Rock piles over a green valley
Les garrotxes 

When we arrived Ignasi the
Owner of the house
Was nowhere to be found
But there was music playing somewhere
While we searched and enunciated “¿Hola?” 
Into the sunlight

When Ignasi found us and we met
I noticed he smelled like
Salt and smoke
He had the tan arms and hands of a man
Who has done a lot of manual labor 

I think we first bonded when
I mentioned that the second room next door to the one that
we were renting from him
Was for my imaginary friends

I don’t know how
But we soon found ourselves sitting at a tiny round table in the yard
We chatted over cups of cold water and a bowl of cherries
We were seated underneath a giant tree
That is over a hundred years old
Ignasi patted it like a friend
When he told me about it 

Ignasi is a carpenter
He doesn’t have social media accounts
Because they’re only for egos talking to
Other egos
He built everything in his house that is
Not stone
By hand

He showed me a photo album of
Pieces of furniture that he built
Throughout the years
He was sometimes featured in the photos
Standing proudly next to his work with
A pencil
Behind his ear

Ignasi was born in Gràcia, Barcelona
Back when Barcelona wasn’t a tourist city
Back when people knew blocks and corners
By heart

He studied at a technical college
He had his son Axel
In the late 70s when he was only 18
Not too long after
They moved to rural Beuda
A place with unnamed roads

Ignasi and I spoke until well after it grew dark
We had one of those conversations where phrases and words translated
Into long stories
The sharing of memories you
Never knew you held on to
It didn’t matter that we eventually could only see
Each other’s hands gesticulating in
The night
We kept on talking anyways

When the sun rose
I made drip coffee I
Found myself standing on a balcony at the back of the house
Drinking my coffee
Above the valley
Above the tall grasses where
Butterflies jumped about where
Swallows
Darted through the morning
There was a stone wall in the distance
And a german shepherd named Nit 

On that land
There are
succulents like aloe
Ignasi often breaks open the leaves and ingests
Some of the gel
Which helps for digestion
The berries that hang
From the special tree that was over our table
Make a great marmalade when
They’re ripe
There is a pond with fish swimming in it
You can’t see them because they’re shy
And the water is cloudy
There are purple flowers
That grow close to the ground
They are edible and good for your
Heart

Later on that morning
When I had to leave
And we kissed goodbye I noticed
Ignasi looked a bit like a dragon
The way his long hair stood on end
How the corners of his eyes curved down
When he smiled

The image of him waving as we drove away
Spoke to the same part of me that is moved by
A good painting 

A painting
A landscape portrait
Of a man
From Catalunya
 

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08

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I thought my Spanish was going pretty well
Considering months of disuse
I got around a small seaside
Village in Catalonia’s Costa Brava
With relative ease
One starry night while I walked along
The water’s edge at the marina
My jet lagged stomach decided it was
Finally time to eat dinner
I found the only restaurant that was
Still open
And sat down to a solo date
I ordered a goat cheese salad
Patates braves
And a glass of wine
It was a bit of a strange dinner
Thanks to the patates braves
But this is the freedom of choice that comes with being an adult
You can do silly things like order a salad with
Fried potatoes on the side
For dinner
Everything came according to plan
Except for my wine
You see I ordered it perfectly
No Spanish mistakes this time
Except for the fact that I, an American who
No longer drinks soda, forgot how much
Half a liter is
When the waiter eventually brought
Over the check
He said, “you look happy” 
My cheeks were already red
So he probably couldn’t tell
That I blushed

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09

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The plan was to
Live in Barcelona for a month
To detox from New York City
To work, make friends, and write
I figured a coworking space would be a good thing to sign up for
Because I wanted to meet real people who lived and worked in the city
Not any of the tourists that stuck to
Tips from other tourists
But people who took 3-hour lunches who
were creative and quirky

You know – 
I already tried out two coworking spaces
One was way too commercial and didn’t have
Any singularity
It could have existed in a pocket of Barcelona that was secretly
Los Angeles
The other had a strange vibe, everyone was way too serious and boring
To be living in a port town on the Mediterranean where the weather hadn’t yet wavered from being exactly 79 degrees
Just as I giving up on the idea of a Catalan coworking space
And was considering other ways to meet
Real Barcelona locals
I stumbled upon a space - El Espai - literally called “The Space”

Espai is situated in a shadowy part of Born where artisans long ago used to keep their shops, and still do
When I walked up to Espai I immediately noticed
That there was a real toilet placed in the window by the door
It had “GOOD SHIT INSIDE” written on its lid
Just as I was admiring this witty toilet
Two guys walked out of the door
And shortly after
They walked back in with me
We went down a set of stairs
Into a little basement grotto with arched ceilings
There were a few wooden tables and
Laptops strewn about this coworking cave

The guys explained in a mix of English and Spanish that almost all of the people who work at the space are graphic designers
And that everyone except them was still out at lunch
There were giant posters and colorful art pinned up on the walls, 
Stickers and records and magazines and skateboards piled high and blocking the door to the
Only meeting room that one could take calls in where there were
More posters stacked on the
Only usable table that was next to a couch that had markers stuck
In the cracks between the cushions

*¡This space was exactly what I was looking for! *

I chatted with my tour guides for a bit and
When they asked if I was interested in working with them
I told them I’d sign up for a month on the spot
They seemed to be very happy about this
The only other detail I needed
Was the wifi password
When I asked them for it
They burst out laughing and it took a while
For them to finally catch their breath
I took it as a very good sign that a simple wifi password could elicit such a reaction and be so
Light and fun to talk about
When they could finally articulate a sentence
They blurted out:
“notamponsinthetoilet!”
I laughed and
Saluted
 

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10

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Where I was at in this conversation on a rooftop in Poble Sec
Was that ignorance is not bliss
And that the ultimate joy is the act of connection
Connecting to yourself, to others, to nature, to a place
And that youth is more of an alibi
Rather than something that needs to be preserved
It’s the curiosity and levity that comes with it
That should never go away I said... 
The more you know
The more you can choose and create
The more that a fresh mind helps you to
Enjoy it all
What a life that is
One in which
Your bliss is something that you
Invented
Bliss that you are
Responsible for
What a story it is that you’re writing when
You decide to know
What the words mean

 
 
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11

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I am pretty confident that I am
Illegally renting an apartment in Barcelona
The part of me that follows rules
Feels a bit uncomfortable about this.
I would maybe have reconsidered
Signing a 30-page, 1-month-only lease for this place
If it were not for its beauty and price

The door to this somewhat sketchy home away from home
has intricate sage green ironwork
Once you open it with one of those
Old-fashioned fairy tale skeleton keys you
Walk across a white marble floor into a generous
Front entryway where on some mornings you can catch
An old man and his black shaggy dog sitting down after their walk

In this entryway there is a staircase atrium you can see
A bunch of interior windows from the floors overhead when you look up
The staircase obviously leads to
The floors above

Before we go any further you must know that the floors
Are entirely misnumbered
The second floor after the first set of stairs is called “Principal” - the 'principal' floor when it is in fact the second
The third is “Primero," but its name technically means the “first,” 
The fourth is "Segundo" – the 'second?!'
And so on

There are big pipes in the interior atrium
That bring water to and from the floors
You can hear the water working and rushing
It sounds like a babbling brook
These notes are really nice to come home to
After a day of walking on busy city streets
The water distracts you a bit
As you trek up to your
5th floor walkup on the third floor that reminds you that you need to work out more and and your ass should not protest this much when walking up stairs

Once you reach the proper apartment door there are
Two separate locks
And an circular golden spy door screen with holes in it that at one time
Had a sliding door on the other side
So that turn of the century posh Barcelona residents could talk to and screen visitors
The typical rules of “righty tighty" and "lefty loosey”
For turning keys to open the door
Are the opposite with this one
You turn the key to the right a couple times to unlock it

Once you successfully walk into your
Totally illegally rented Barcelona apartment
You are greeted with a
Beautiful foyer that would cost
Millions of dollars just for a few of those square feet if
it was located in New York City
But it’s definitely not for the aforementioned reasons and because
it has antique patterned tiles on the floor that have triangles on them
They feel very nice and cool on your bare feet once you
Slip off your sandals
 

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12

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The bartender from Bar Calders
Was so caring when giving directions
Stepping outside of the bar
Walking halfway down the street with me
Pointing with conviction, speaking clearly with intent
The directions were quite useless
Because the bartender from Bar Calders
chose to bring me exactly to where I was going in Sant Antoni

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13

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It hurts this man to smile
Given that he has a condition where
His muscles and movement never had the chance to develop
The way that they should have
But when he makes the effort to smile
Each part of his face smiles at a different time
The effect is like watching
A string of fireworks explode at slightly different intervals you can
Appreciate the whole as well as
Each part
As he smiled he was sitting
In his wheelchair on a street in Barcelona’s gothic quarter
Where he sits many days
Next to other friends in chairs who
Can appreciate the feat of heroism that it takes
To share a feeling
 

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14

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There is a cohort of older Barcelona inhabitants who enjoy
Setting up beach chairs on
The sidelines of the tourist-filled Les Rambles streets
They sit down
Chat together and watch
Many different people
Walk by
 

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15

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Tuesday’s alarm clock was
A morning thunderstorm
The sky was such a dark blue
That when streaks of light came through that
Illuminated rain drops from a specific section of the sky
They looked like silver liquified in the heavens and
Chose to disappear upon landing
The sound of the thunder was
As if earth decided to finally say
A single word this morning, spoken in a language
That sounds somehow familiar
It causes
Your eyes to flutter a bit while you consider
Whether or not you may just step out onto the balcony to feel
Like you are a part of it all, there
Soaked to the bone in your pajamas looking at clotheslines in the distance with clothes hanging
That were supposed to be dry but are now soaked
Just like the leaves in the
Early morning
At the beginning of your day
When darkness fell and the earth spoke and water became silver
So that everything could continue to
Breathe and so that you and the other residents
Of Gràcia, Barcelona
Could wake up

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16

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I had the opportunity to thank him for my breakfast
“It was so good” I said.
He then leaned over the counter of this coffee shop in El Born, his face was
uncomfortably close to my face, he said
“So good that you’re wearing it!”
He took his hand and gently  
Brushed whatever it was off
My cheek
 

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17

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They constructed a giant canvas for a mural
That would live at the wine shop
They had it out on the street for a Vila de Gracia block party designed around the act of
Painting it
A DJ was just inside the shop playing music
Next to taps of vermouth
The artists had tiny cups of acrylic that they held in one hand while painting with a brush in the other
As good music poured out onto the pavement
They outlined and filled in a
A beach ball, some wine glasses, and bottles
In bold colors
This work of art
That was designed on a computer the night before
Became a living street art festival
With people stopping by to watch
A simple mural in progress and pierced and tattooed 30-something artists
Doing exactly what they love
The artists were having so much fun
That they let other people paint a few strokes on the canvas without ceremony
They danced out in the open between fixing mistakes and making good conversation
Everyone drank way too much vermouth
Afterwards when we all cheersed acrossed a table that had
many different plates of tapas on it
In a room whose walls were
Shelves and shelves of bottles of wine
There wasn’t a single person
Who didn’t have flecks of paint on their hands
And who wasn’t having
a really great time

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18

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Above Gotic
there's a white seagull flying close to
the only star you can see which happens to be
Mars
(We looked.)
There are pink roses etched into the facade of a cream-colored building across the street next to other buildings with
Stone greys and greens and purples and yellows growing up high from the sidewalks
Above the treetops
There are people standing on
Another terrace nearby
They feel closer than they are we're
All somehow occupying the same flowing space –
Nestled together among string lights on
These ceilings in Barcelona that conspired with
The sea and mountains and sky we're all
Poets on the roof, happy to be here, 
Searching for the moon
Happy that we all,
Once upon a time,
Flew

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19

There's no real way to describe it
But grounded suspension
Surrounded by people and even
Hexagon sea-themed sidewalk tiles that
Define pathways on
Their own terms

I found you
in a place where snow is rose-colored
Where west is north

I found you
Reflected in seasonless stained glass
The noseprint on the gondola window

The umbrella repair man knows already
So do the flags that hang between the lampposts
And the Eixample intersections that make you turn three times instead of one

They all already know that
night is just as alive as day
effervescence is the only method
that your voice is magical
as a whisper

Enhorabona per ser com tu ets, Barcelona
Congratulations for being
As you are

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