Barcelona or Bust.

Any immigrant in Italy can tell you that there is a very fragile patchwork of stitching that is keeping your expatriate baggage together. Every year that passes, you slap on another patch to reinforce the wear and tear that comes with dragging your tattered bag over the ridges of cultural barriers and through the ditches of bureaucratic nightmares.

There is the constant danger that someone could bump into you and rip open a patch, causing you to inappropriately make blatant generalizations and curse an entire country. Or that your bag could bust completely open and you could end up with nothing – a defeated, crumpled up ball by the stufa. To cope, you makes jokes and tell stories on your little “look-at-me-I-live-in-Italy” blog, and you attempt to examine your own sewing technique for these patches that you’re adding to your bag. All the while, you try to keep in mind the reason that you’re lugging this thing around. Perhaps you’re here for work, perhaps for love. Perhaps because you thought you could be like Diane Lane in ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ (which would be really ridiculous, but hey, I won’t judge).

In any case you plod along, hoping that the stitches hold and that you’ll get used to the weight. Well, this past month I think I may have busted at least one of the seams that is holding my raggedy bag together. The only way to accurately express my sentiment over this past month is with the Reggiano dialect phrase:

“Che pèis, ragas!” 

(That’s “quanto è pesante, ragazzi” in normal Italian. Literally it translates to, “how heavy, guys”. I would say it’s perhaps akin to “man, that’s intense”, but funnier and more accurate. I’ve come to notice that many expressions of frustration, exhaustion, and defeat can be better expressed in Italian or dialect than in English. Coincidence?)

I’m not even sure how to start explaining my month-long absence from this here dear blog, which usually serves as my self-help, how-to guide for dragging this heavy bag around Italy. I just couldn’t bring myself to try writing out my frustrations without being able to come to a sunny conclusion. I needed to wallow a bit and sob over my torn stitches.

“Oh dear LORD, please stop with the baggage metaphor, M.”

Fine. Be that way.

My unpleasant disposition this past month was, I suppose, a mix of acute homesickness, the 30-something blues, and a generally irrational loathing for my host country, Italy. That was all combined in a nice little package with a particularly heavy load of work, a bunch of poorly timed Italian bureaucratic nonsense, and a steady procession of baby photos on my personal Facebook news feed that made me swing dramatically in mood from “I want to rip out my ovaries” to “I want to hump until I’ve produced a litter of children”. (Side note: Facebook is evil.) Anyway, it had all been building up for a while.

So when it was suggested that the Pazze Ragazze (my name for the group of lady friends responsible for the gingerbread man fiasco at Christmas) take a weekend trip to Barcelona to get away and relax, I jumped on that. It was just what I needed to recharge by batteries… my “expatteries”, if you will. Snort snort.

This past Friday we packed up our bags (this one doesn’t count, it’s not a metaphor, we really had bags), and headed to Barcelona. While the sights were awesome and the company was fantastic, I have to say the best part was remembering that it’s not just foreigners in Italy that have bags.

Italian ladies have them too! Sure, they’re Gucci and a whole lot thinner, but they’re full of a lot of the same crap as ours. Sometimes all it takes is a weekend with friends to sort through the crap, get organized, and sew on some new patches.

So grab a glass of wine, have a seat, and check out my Barcelona weekend trip photos – an affordable and fun weekend destination from Italy for those times when you just need a break. Here’s a toast to the Pazze Ragazze, who ironically help keep me sane. Cin cin!

18 thoughts on “Barcelona or Bust.

  1. Hey M, I’m very glad to read you again. I was getting worried! I’m sorry that you went through a quite rough patch, but it’s good to know that the trip to Barcelona (beautiful photos, by the way) helped put another metaphoric stitch on your bag.

  2. Glad you got to get away, was there a couple of weeks ago too, great diversion but my friend got pickpocketed! Neither of us saw a thing! But the Gaudi didnt disappoint…had to laugh as I took some of hte same pics, even the graffiti on the way up to the 3 crosses…My favorites were the Parc Guell and the Sagra Famiglia, but also loved the graffiti on doorways in the narrow streets. Spring is upon us though and moods go from gloom and doom to allegra! Anyone going there should watch their wallets though…I had someones hand in my bag on the metro but she didnt get anything as it was just my ipad bag! Again, I saw nothing but someone alerted me.

    • so true Janice. We probably looked totally paranoid, the three of us with our bags on our tummies, but the pickpocketing is astounding there. Luckily nothing happened. I’m pretty scary looking, though. Maybe that helped. RARG! 🙂

  3. I was in Barcelona too a few weeks ago and loved the city. Was expecting it to be another boring work trip away from my toddler but Gaudi did help turn it around :). Trying to plan a return trip now with my husband and son… Loved Gaudi and LOVED the food…. though this Texan did start missing Tex-Mex towards the end.

    • Word. I brought 10 avocados home with me for the sole purpose of Tex-Mexing the heck out of ’em. 🙂 The airport security guy laughed at me.

  4. I like the baggage metaphor. 🙂 I think every expat can relate to what you described. Love the pics! I think Gaudi’s work can put a smile on anyone’s face.

    • yup, Gaudi’s my man. I remember being embarrassed saying he was my favorite when I was an architecture student. I guess I thought it was too cliche or something. But now I’m an architect. And I don’t care. He’s my favorite. 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by, Lynda!

  5. So happy for a new blog post from you 🙂

    Sorry to hear about the rough patch! Hope it’s all sorted out. Glad you could do a girls trip :). I laughed about you comments about Facebook and what people post about babies can relate


    • Thanks, Christina!!
      Girls’ trips are cure-alls, I swear. We bitched a lot about the baby fever epidemic on Facebook too. My god.

  6. Glad to see you back, I also get homesick so I just go back and visit my daughter for a few days, although I think I out stay my welcome nowadays. Pics were fab glad you had fun

    • lucky! I’m planning a trip back for this summer. Barcelona was a great break, but I still need to soak up some ‘Merican.

  7. Well done you for dragging yourself out of the loathy-hole and doing something new and fun. Hope to hear more from you soon.

    • Glad you like the “expatteries” thing! I find that my puns are worsening over the years. I was so focused on not sounding like my mother all that time… didn’t see the dad puns sneak into my repertoire. 🙂

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