Barcelona Ain’t Ready… Or Maybe That’s Just Me

Max Stainton
August 31, 2019
Red River Gorge

Bulky, olive and brutish, frays schism and cleave at every corner. Hard plastic worn smooth. Metal neatly pinched together. It waits, patient and tranquil, unrelenting and demanding, prepared to be prepared. 

My suitcase has been sitting on the floor for thirty-two days now, pant-legs dangling from open compartments, top flung open, surrounded by a wrinkled pile of its own excrement, awaiting another adventure. Thirty-two days ago I left my internship in sunny San Diego and began what has been perhaps the busiest month of my life, spending a brief weekend reconnecting with high school friends in Michigan, visiting family in Pittsburgh and upstate New York, hiking the Red River Gorge in Kentucky, driving back to my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, attending a couple meetings, sending in a few applications, working some extra shifts, and spending an inordinate amount of time staring at an ugly, frayed, olive suitcase, preparing to prepare to leave again.

“I am going to Barcelona in a month… I am going to Barcelona in three weeks… I am going to Barcelona in two days… In two days?!”

Everyone I’ve talked to about my upcoming transcontinental sojourn has expressed nothing but excitement and joy for me. They want me to see the Sagrada Familia, tour Parc Güel, drink lots of sangria, and meet a nice señorita. They want me to travel to Paris and London and Rome and Morocco and Prague and Vienna, to hike El Camino De Santiago, visit the Chopin museum, watch a play at the Globe, to see and experience everything they’ve seen and experienced and everything their friends and brothers and mothers and ex-boyfriends and 8th grade English teachers have seen and experienced. 

Spain has been a lot of things for a lot of people over a lot of years. For me, it will be—well, actually, I’m not sure what it will be yet, and that’s the best part. Perhaps I’ll learn to dance sardana or I’ll lose my voice at a soccer game. Perhaps I won’t. Perhaps the best plan for me is no plan at all, allowing myself to be whisked away by the wind, the allure of pretty lights, or the irresistible aroma of tapas.

There is, however, one thing that makes me bubble with giddy fervor. Through all of my travels across the U.S., I have never been a true outsider, never known what it’s like to not belong somewhere and have everyone else in the room know it too. People always speak English, always smile and wave and ask how I’m doing; they dress like I do, think like I do, greet each other the way I do; they watch the same kinds of movies, have the same kinds of pets, and cook the same kinds of foods. For the first time in my life, I will be completely and utterly lost in a place and culture that I know virtually nothing about, and it’s going to be glorious.

Barcelona ain’t ready for me.

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Max Stainton

<p>I'm a nerdy adrenaline-junkie with a guilty conscience. I love reading dusty books and practicing piano, I don't count it as an adventure unless there is a possibility of death, and I volunteer compulsively. Oh, and I'm weirdly good at foosball.</p>

2019 Fall
Home University:
Wake Forest University
Cincinnati, OH
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