Days of Rain
|Alicante sunrise at dawn|
Five new amigos and I grabbed bags and sunglasses and jumped on a train headed for this sunbather’s paradise. This particular weekend in July was sure to be a joy: for, although most weekends are holidays in Spain for some reason or another, this weekend the streets were to be filled with European DJs of all houses and sounds, together to create beautiful live music. On the way, I jotted in my journal as we sipped on Stella Artois and various cocktails, sped by mountains, their humps reaching higher and coloring whiter as we descended the coast, and waited for greetings from the healthiest coastline in the world. When we arrived, we took a lazy paseo – or, a walk with no destination, in the afternoon; we spent the night barefoot in the sand, dancing to live music created on impulse and drinking to orange Fanta bottles, white sands, and each other; we laughed, we skipped, we let our minds drift to a heavenly place as we played fiesta with the revelry. We were somehow connected to this electric mental place – we were the pale rarities in the reflection of dark Spaniards, just as the pale mountains to the distant ranges. We bound ourselves together in new friendship and finally rested in a heap at dawn, watching the sun once again bless this land with brightness, and we felt at peace.
As the sun crept over the stunning horizon lined in pure blue water and crystal white sand, I thought of home, how words could not harness my lightness, my stillness, my tranquility, yet how I wished to capture it for those I loved. Thinking that it was a moment for a photo and not a mental journal entry (for sometimes pictures are worth more than thousands of words), I reached beside me, thrust my hand towards my bag, and landed in a pile of smooth sandpaper. Beside me was only sand: white, white sand, and only white, white sand. My bag had somehow skipped town without me.
If panic, desperation, fear, and horror could be mixed together in a cocktail, let me assure potential drinkers that this combination would leave them sick and passed out with a heavy hangover – and when I say heavy, I mean no aspirin, bloody mary, or sleep could ever possibly cure that one. I felt faint as fiery tears exploded from eyes that had deceived me; I hadn’t been mindful of my bag, and now I never would be again. I was now a nameless foreigner, without identity, without money, without train ticket, without wallet, without camera, without film, without shoes; but most of all, without words. My blue journal, stashed away so carefully in my bag, with dreams and fears and naked honesty – had it really been that easy to take the words right out of my pocketbook?
I cried, staining black the angelic sand around me, and fell to the earth, screaming in my native tongue. I felt hopeless and ignorant and misplaced. I remember shrieking madly about my journal, how nothing else mattered and how I would do anything in the world to have my words, my precious words; I remember Erin consoling me, for she is wiser and less foolish than me; Mike telling me he would buy me a train ticket; Kate thinning out suspects and combing the beach for evidence. I remember, more than anything else, the sinister Arabic man, who with black eyes and tall stature, mysteriously placed the drooping bag in my trembling hands, and I remember catching the nervousness in his face. I remember the way his pockets bulged unnaturally, how his explanation was flawed in broken Spanish, how he became defensive and wouldn’t answer my pleading questions, how he disappeared from sight too quickly to catch when the questions got hairy. I dried my eyes, and, nearly exhausted, peeled open the clasp: in all its vast emptiness, ripped open, with the cover torn to shreds, with my words peppering the shredded pages, rested my blue journal.
My eyes alone could have watered the entire coast of Alicante, my tears the only rain the beaches would see for quite some time.
As we trudged towards the train station, my feet tingling with the hot pavement and my bag droopy and knocking against my hip, I realized the irony in the situation. It seemed that I had managed to lose my beloved camera, my precious photos, two hundred freshly-extracted euros from the ATM, my credit cards, a handmade gift for my sister from a street artist, and every legal form of identification I possessed the same night I searched for lightness in the land of purity. That I have never felt so sick in a land deemed the healthiest place in the world. That I lost everything but the one thing that matters in this life more to me than life itself. And that the man who stole my identity gave me back my book of passionate memories because of its materialistic uselessness to him. And, sure enough, just as Alicante promised, on our ride home I did feel a substantial burden lifted from my back and my step, although that could have been due to the ten pounds of things I left without.
However, I wonder: Isn’t it interesting how the most precious thing to me (my own stories) was the most meaningless one to him? And how there was some reason that his pockets jangled with my camera and money while something else jostled his conscious? The only thing I brought back from Alicante’s white mountains was a bundle of personal words in a taped-up book written in a language I was still learning – how little did I realize that language was just the beginning!