Last Saturday, in Barcelona, I had made a decision to go out. In Madrid, I went wherever Tals said we would go as it was her city and I was to meet her friends and to hang out the way she does in Madrid, which I’m perfectly happy with. In Portugal, I was not prepared for how late the parties and the nightlife began and every weekend, my brother had something planned for us so I have not explored the Portuguese nightlife just yet — not properly anyway — but I will when I get back; that’s what is so great about staying in another country for a long time, you get to pace yourself.
But in Barcelona, I would only have one weekend so I had to make the most out of it. I was alone since I was staying with my aunt in the city and she doesn’t go out so I only had myself to rely on for this. I made friends on Tinder and Grindr but the plans never pulled through to meet up so I was pretty much on my own.
So I read up on Barcelona nightlife, chose a club to go to and stepped out.
What happened that night will be written about; it will serve as a the basis of a short story I am now eager to write. Instead, I want to write about the ending. It was La Merce, a musical festival that happens in Barcelona and so the city was filled to the brim on the streets with crowds of people drinking and dancing all over. I did find myself in a club. I went home at quarter to five in the morning.
In Barcelona, the metro is open 24 hours on Saturdays and so I knew I could get home this way and it was the most amazing, cinematic, and literary experience I’ve had in a long while. It was early morning, and the sun would be up in an hour or so and the scenes that I witnessed on the metro back to my aunt’s house were the stuff of books and movies.
I had my own little experience that evening and while I will write about it, and maybe some of the things I will write about now will find their way into the story, but these are things I have never seen before in all my life.
The metro ride home is so revealing here and I guess anywhere were the metro is open 24-hours of the weekend. I’ve been out in Manila a lot but back home, you take a cab or you get a ride with your friends, or if you are privileged enough, you drive home and hope to god you are sober enough to make it in one piece. Some people take the bus or a jeep but in the places I go to, that hardly ever really happens. I’ve been blessed enough to have been with friends with cars or money enough for a cab.
I’ve gone out in Hong Kong and Singapore and usually there was a bar close enough to where I was billeted to have gone home walking. And, yes, everyone is walking home or taking cabs too. If I was too drunk for the long walk home, I’d take a cab. There was always money enough for a cab home. In Sydney, I did go out but I was with friends and they had a car and so I don’t know what that was like. In Madrid, Tals lived just in the neighbourhood were all the drinking establishments were so we walked home too.
But the metro is the great equaliser — rich and poor, young and old, sober or pissed drunk — it seemed that they all went home this way, or at least a large portion of the party crowd did. It was amazing to me. Anyone on the train at five in the morning had the posture and the carriage of someone who was done for the night, who could not wait to get into bed, who had a story to tell the moment they woke up.
There was a group of girls, four in all, were one had to be supported by two of her friends and she still managed to stumble unto the floor and she laid there, crying over something she said in Catalan while her other friends tried to calm her down. It wasn’t because she was hurt from the fall. It was something more serious than that.
One young guy stood in front of the ticketing machine and put his hands in his pockets and his face distorted into shock and horror and discovered he had no money left. He looked around, saw me, and just made a jump over the turnstile. He didn’t quite make it, and fell on the floor, fortunately enough, falling on his back and shoulder and not on his head. He stood up, looked around, smiled at me and ran for the platform.
There was vomit on the floor at the end of one escalator to the red line. The person had rice and probably sangria or some other red drink, for sure. It looked that way.
There was the cute guy I took a photo of that I posted above. There’s another guy who slept on a whole bench in the metro here on the right. And look at that floor. It was not like that in any of the trains I’ve been on during my whole stay in Barcelona.
In fact, the next afternoon, I was out and about again and you can see that the train floor had been mopped. It didn’t completely clean up the aftermath of the night before, but the attempt was there and by Monday, it was all gone; like it never happened.
There are stories here, for sure, and while I cannot document them all as much as I would love to, it brings me back to the days when I had similar stories to share and I wonder how they would have ended for me had I gone home by a train rather than by a taxi or by riding home with a friend or driving home like I used to do back in the day.
I am such a romantic and my imagination can go wild and I know that those days and nights would have been so delicate and fragile because I could make any little thing mean something else entirely. These are scenes that probably happen every weekend here in Barcelona and already I’m making it seem like something larger and magical than it really is — just another weekend of revelry. This is how it always ends but there are stories here and I want to tell them.
And I have my own story. I have several, actually, from that Saturday night and they all found a form during my own train ride home that morning. Surrounded by these people, kindred spirits really, the story ideas came up to my head and I knew I just to write them. I had to put them down and give them life.
I thought I had outgrown these things already but the truth of the matter is, I danced for two hours straight that evening. I danced in a foreign city in a real club where people were really dancing and I hadn’t done that since 2006.
There are stories to tell. I can’t wait to get home to tell them.