I had my camera stolen in Barcelone.
Not my new video monster but my Canon G9 still camera.
It was miraculously slipped out of my small, zipped “murse” (man purse as it’s known to the students) on the Metro.
I replay and replay in my head where and how it could have happened.
After the initial fit of rage and sense of yokel idiocy, I had to admit that the skill and covert quality of the act was incredibly impressive. The Metro was never that crowded and I always (I thought) had my thumb hooked on the strap with my hand cupping the bag. I was deeply fatigued and was still a bit sick from a very aggressive stomach bug and my inattentive sluggishness was obviously not lost on my liberator.
“Damn it, damn it, damn it…… I had just bought it and had finally figured out all of the bells and whistles and it was such a hassle for my friends in Portland to ship it over and I paid such a heavy tax at customs and there were irreplaceable pictures of Carnac on it and …”
All of the focus I was putting on my “misfortune” and “tragedy” and “violation” was bluntly put into perspective when hours later the Student Coordinator and I received a call that the father of one of our students had just died. Here now was the actualization of one of the biggest fears we have of what could happen during these sessions.
It was heart breaking.
We got him on a flight home the next day and will fortunately be welcoming him back this week and hope we’ll be able to provide a safe place for his return.
So the day continued and as we all navigated our collective emotional whirlwind, a deep, surprising sense of engagement and lucidity was pushing its way into my head and heart.
Where had the rage gone?
We continued on to Gaudi’s incomparable Sagrada Familia and then to Park Güell to walk the eccentric paths and slip in and out of the undulating profiles of his fantastic porticos. Here I felt my internal fixations begin to blossom out, slowly dissipate and be replaced with an unfamiliar sense of both empathy and comfortable insignificance.
An errant soccer ball slowly rolling through a patch of brilliant, raking sunlight pinned me to the moment.
Here I was, here we all were.
No more and no less.
Slipping and tumbling through a tangle of lingering remorse and jubilant expectation with our daily assumptions teetering on multiple facets of chance, accident and circumstance.
A grand, neurotic monument continues to be built, discarded beliefs and antiquated facades tumble and here we all sat as friends, strangers, lovers and criminals in a park sharing the same sun with new born infants incapable of yet knowing their potential and older couples at reluctant peace with the remaining turn of their days.
I want to thank the faceless, nameless spectre that slipped up to the boundary of my physical self and carried away the anchor and archived collecton of stillborn echoes of spent moments captured but not deeply felt, documented but not greedily consumed.
This unfelt gesture left me souvenir free, both alone with and connected to each nuanced whisper and blinding glint of the present.