The early morning light in October is beautiful. It glows softly at the limestone houses. The typical Maltese balconies strike me again with their classic elegance. I like the busi-ness of the people here. Old women walk the narrow streets, dressed in a classic way, almost French. They wear a pleaded skirt with a blouse or a checkered dress with a neat light jacket. And occasionally a shopping bag. They look timeless. As timeless as their age.
I park the car at Saint Francis square to have tea at the Beeheeve. It’s like a chapter from a book. I am the observer, the narrator. I am not part of the scene. The Beeheeve and Tapies bar next to it, have plastic tables and chairs outside. The weather is great. Mid October, Saturday morning 7.30 am. There’s only men sitting here. Timeless men. Countless men. I walk inside and order a tea. I am the outsider. This strange bewildered feeling is what I need right now, right here. Gozo is beautiful. If it’s not this island, what is it then?
Boarding is forty minutes delayed and we’ve not been allocated seats next to each other. However the good news is that a generous ‘real airline’ luggage allowance applies for our flight today with Iberia operated by the low cost airline Vueling. Our bag filled with a fair amount of port from Porto gets checked without any questions. Flying in Europe is a bit of Russian roulette. Sometimes you die. Sometimes you win.
After waking up very early this morning Brian puts on ‘Sugar how you Get so fly’. It’s 5 am. We are flying from Lisbon to Barcelona today. But first we make love. Like a man and a woman. Sweet whispers in my ear: “Baby…”. I say:”I like it when you call me baby”.
One of our allocated seats is a middle seat. The other one, two rows further down, is a window seat with extra leg space. I ask the older woman with blonde dyed hair and dressed in a sporty fluoriscent yellow fitness jacket, seated at the aile next to our middle seat, if she minds swapping seats. So that Brian and I can sit together and she can enjoy extra leg space at a window seat two rows further down. With an American accent she replies “No”. Then I ask a young woman who’s comfortably seated at the other side, the window side, of our middle seat. Her head rests in a nowadays indispensable in flight accessoir wrapped around her neck. “Do you mind?…”. Fortunately she replies “sure”, also with an American accent. I am grateful. Both for Brian choosing to sit next to me over a seat with additional leg space and for the empathy of the younger woman.
A bit later the older American lady who now is our neighbor reads into her tourist guide about tapas bars. Sure thing with destination Barcelona. It brings me back to Guimet y Guimet six years ago. At the time advertised in a lists of ‘the ten best..’. A very traditional tapas bar in a back then by tourists lesser known neighborhood of Barcelona called Gracia. It’s here where I got to talk and listen to Brian. We didn’t fall in love because we didn’t know we could. We did what we could. Talking endlessly, laughing, talking more and more sincere. Until we left. With our friend. At the time we spent less then twenty four hours in each other’s presence. Which was initiated and facilitated by our best friend. Six years later we’re on a flight bringing him and me back to Barcelona. Where it all began baby. I like it when you call me baby.
I kind of regret the American blonde older woman will not know about this story. It could enrich her Barcelona experience in a lovely way. Me telling her about a special night at Guimet y Guimet. She hearing inside stories about how two people’s lives changed completely. Both of us impressed by the connective power of love. But I don’t think she’d understand.