When I travel, I don’t necessarily pick my destination for the sights. Nor, does it need to be someplace new. In fact, I repeat locations often. Barcelona was home for six years and all too familiar, but each time I get here, it is a unique experience. Sitting and writing this piece in the exposed patio of Palau Cervelló, a 14th century structure which houses an art gallery next to the Picasso Museum, is not too shabby I have to say. Getting to spend some time by the Mediterranean Sea never gets old.
Good food, well, that’s a given here. But, quite honestly what inspires me to travel are the human relationships, both ones I’ve left behind and the unexpected ones that I am somehow fortunate to form every time I travel. And, this is what really fills my soul. Being open to human connections almost always puts me in touch with wonderful folks. This time, however, there was yet another variable I had to consider as I was trying to make mature adult decisions. Unable to really afford a lengthy vacation, I chose to return to Barcelona for all of the reasons mentioned above and then….well, to bring to fruition what Pack Your Mat was created to do (travel & yoga). As a few projects were postponed this summer for Stega, a yoga and meditation I co-created with my best friend, I chose to focus on teaching more and start forming relationships to do workshops internationally. What better place, I thought, than the city I left behind not too long ago to return to run workshops. I have to say it feels like my relationship with this city is unfinished. Unequivocally, it is!
When I left this place about three years ago, it felt like I was not only divorcing my former partner but also the city. At least with my partner the signing of the divorce papers gave some sort of “official” closure. But, even then, let’s be real, no signature gives closure to emotions and years of love and cohabitation. It was time that helped my personal evolution and the shift in emotions. Time and space! That heals, they say! When my former partner accompanied me to the airport on that hot day 24th of June 2014, the floodgates opened and I was an uncontrollable crying mess. It wasn’t until I was across the Atlantic that the flight attendant who put her hand on my shoulder, not knowing what was wrong with me, said “it will be ok…let me get you some wine.” The grief was strong and the tears were draining. Somehow I knew that it would all be ok. Somehow, that human touch calmed me. I knew that I could always come back and would be welcomed here by my ex, friends and Barcelona. And this was the truth.
On this visit I combined my vacation with work, where I was accomodated by my dear friends and got the opportunity to lead a yoga workshop. Coming in blindly and emailing a few studios, I was fortunate to get my first positive reply from Bilyana, co-owner of La Shala Barcelona. Our email communications were great, but it wasn’t until I met her and Marcos upon arrival that I knew La Shala was going to be my Barcelona yoga home. The space is beautiful and centrally located. The community that Bilyana and Marcos have created is special. On Saturday, June 10th, The Heart Opening and Mindful Practice workshop that I led went beautifully with familiar friendly faces and many who I was meeting for the very first time.
Working with bodies that I’ve never really worked with was challenging at first, but the receptivity and openness with which the participants attended the workshop made my job easier than I had anticipated. Feeling welcomed by this community, Bilyana decided to also let me guide her Tuesday evening class. My heart has been filled with joy and gratitude for it all. As I leave Barcelona in a few days, I am certain that this will not be the last time. We are already in talks about a few workshop series. Who says a divorce has to be nasty. In fact it could be an opportunity to recreate, propagate, generate and revitalize a relationship. It has absolutely felt like I have entered a new phase with the city, my friends and Oswaldo, who is now a lifelong friend to me.
Quite frankly, Barcelona is my home. It’s felt more home than Los Angeles at times. I have a very long history and relationship with the city, the culture, and the people. The food is familiar and the energy of the city is just like I left it. I am able to go to the local coffee shops and restaurants and say hello to the people I met a few years back, which are followed by hugs and kisses. When I left, I knew that I was leaving behind a city that is dear to my heart. I was not only divorcing my former partner, but it was a complicated separation with a city which had swept me off my feet.
But, just like all my human relationships, I have had the fortune and blessing of never losing the relationships with the people I love. It is difficult to not attach in an unhealthy manner to the beautiful memories and the past. And, given the variables of time and space, somehow, the distance has not ruined our relationships, but has shifted them in a healthy manner. I am a lucky guy to be able to enjoy my birthday dinner years later with my former partner and be welcomed by my friends here in their homes. What more can I ask for. As I write this with utmost gratitude and joy, I am beyond happy that my reconciliation has been effortless and my divorces fruitful. To many more memories with this wonderful city.