Many years ago, in an old edition of The Best American Short Stories of some year, probably 1985 or so, there appeared a story entitled Barcelona by Alice Adams. It was the first story in the book, and I'm not sure if that is because of the alphabet or if it was "first" that year in respect and regard, but I always liked it because of the journey within. The story revolves around Persis and her husband Thad, a sad sack of a name and pretty much a sad sack of a character, who manages to recover something that Persis doesn't really need recovered in the first place. Off a thief goes with Persis' purse, and off Thad goes to save it, not knowing that there is nothing of worth in the purse.
He brings back what wasn't really needed. He's not needed. And as Persis sits and waits, we learn all of this.
I've been thinkng a lot about that story these days as I walk the streets of Barcelona with my new husband, my purse full at this point and clutched to my person at all times. We are are warned in the guide books to beware the pickpocket, the gypsy on bicycle, the pretend beggars, the trio of Romanians with plaintive and honest looking faces. We are told to eschew the North Africans, the Africans, the lone men, the happy, smiling women with cameras.
Basically, we can't trust anyone on the street other than the marked German tourists in their peddle pushers.
I am not Persis, and Michael is not Thad, but we are on that journey of no journey, the tourist journey with no real destination. We go where we should go and see what we should see, clutching our belonings to us as we do because someone else wants what we want.
Who we are isn't important because we aren't who we are here in Barcelona as we don't belong except to stir up the local economies, legal and otherwise.
I think of Persis sitting in the placa waiting for Thad to rescue what needs no resucing. A tourist even in heroism. Back home, they will undoubtedly work out their marriage, but we leave them with Persis knowing, with Thad not knowing, both of them out of place in place, there but not there at all.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org