I stood in front of the refrigerator not so much to deliberate what I would eat but as a means to lower the body temperature after a two-hour jaunt in a park nearby. It being July and all, temperatures rise to the high nineties during the day and fall to the lower nineties at night. The relief that exists in this slight change of heat is only aided by a cold shower before going to bed. I had sat in front of the computer on a coffee buzz for six hours that afternoon researching and applying to seven different freelance writing jobs, surpassing my goal of applying to four and doing a few fist pumps to celebrate.
Needing to look at something that wasn’t a screen, my eyes decided I needed to take a walk in a park and my body followed. Not wanting to look at an even smaller screen every few minutes as we are all in the habit of doing (don’t deny it, you know you do it too), I decided to do the unthinkable in 2015 and leave my cell phone behind. It lay on my dresser begging to come along like a dog begs for its belly to be scratched, I stared at it for a minute, debating giving it a little tickle. What if someone texts me? What if I find the perfect photo to post on instagram? What if I actually look at real things like trees? The latter won.
There’s a park called Jardins del Turo del Putxet and it’s a little hilly haven provided two stipulations. 1.) You are ready to release toxins in the form of sweat as the park is built on a hill and all of Barcelona is one giant sauna. 2.) You don’t mind the occasional whiff of dog crap as every single dog owner that exists in Barcelona decides to take their dog for a walk there at the same time you go which is approximately at 7:30PM on a Friday night.
I figured I’d go for a quick walk up the park’s hill, nod approvingly at the view, stare at some trees and avoid petting any dogs lest my hand reek of dog sweat while I’m nodding approvingly at the view. Something I like about Barcelona is that there are ample water fountains everywhere, including around every bend in this park. I used them. Often. It’s a must in this heat that hangs like a heavy woolen cape around the shoulders of Barcelona.
Entering the park felt like an immediate oasis of green colors and floral scents (despite the aforementioned dog crap scent every so often) and I envied the people who have apartments abutting the park. “Let me live with you,” I silently pleaded to a privileged couple having dinner on their balcony overlooking the hill. I’m sure those people know that Jardins del Turo del Putxet is a good place to climb after six hours of sitting in front of a screen. When you pair your morning with a 20-minute meditation session, followed by an hour’s worth of yoga followed by a cup of coffee, great ambition barrels forth not unlike a volcano erupting. How to harness this concentration and strap it to your body with duct tape in order to utilize it everyday I have yet to figure out. I don’t always dedicate an hour and a half to yoga and meditation and perhaps therein lies the answer.
I walked slowly to the top of the hill hoping to find a little corner with a bench to sit down upon and ruminate on the trees. You can see all the way out to the Mediterranean from the park but the view is marred by all the chunky buildings placed in between Jardins del Turo del Putxet and the sea. Besides, I was more interested in looking up rather than out. The tree hugging hippie in me needed to sit in arboreal church and chant to the leaf goddesses rather than stare out at myriad concrete structures that in and of themselves are like a horizon with no beginning or end.
For some reason I felt drawn to a part of the park that was rather flat with benches lining either side of the paved path like teeth with extremely large gaps. On the opposite end were half a dozen dogs gallivanting around, some owners throwing balls and others engrossed in some trending theme on their smartphones. I could hear snippets of conversations as people passed by. I haven’t yet left the realm of being completely impressed with myself when I understand everything someone is saying in Spanish. This is a new development in the past few months and it feels as good as eating fresh raspberries straight from the vine.
I ignored the dogs and stared up into the branches across the path. I started to melt in the heat and slide like liquid over to the base of the tree. I circled around it like ivy reaching and reaching towards the apex of the tree, touching every leaf along the way as if each one held the cosmos at the very point of each leaf tip. I breathed in pitch hunkered down in the roots and jasmine from the neighboring bush. I became every square inch of the tree, receding with the wind and proceeding like the day does, tumbling forward at the knock and pull of each small gust. The tree lifted me up and placed me on the highest branches past all the little critters that call this tree home with their curious yet apprehensive stares. Who was this melted woman in their kingdom? High in the trees embrace I thought it might be best to never come down. I was a fresh unfinished statement ready for completion and the tree was the three dots at the end of a partial thought. I hung in the branches suspended by oxygen and leaves dreaming my lungs out for what felt like hours.
Eventually, I slid down the tree slowly like the last of honey oozing lackadaisically down the sides of a jar. In my reverie I hadn’t noticed that two hours had passed and I tried desperately to hold onto the heightened sensitivities my body felt as I left the park and walked in thick heat home. The refrigerated air touched my brow gently like a lover does, cooled my body slowly like dappled shade from a tree does. I dreamt that night of the forest and the mountains, something like healing and regenerating, something I need like water in this city dwelling life.