There were lots of interesting things in Barcelona. But two stand out. The first is our US bank will NOT bank in Spain. Under any circumstances. Even if you are stranded there without cash and three kids. My suggestion, to anyone traveling, is to check with your bank before you go to see what school yard fights they may be involved in. Trust me, it is a GIANT pain in the ass when you find yourself without access to credit cards or debit cards.
Luckily for me, I have a father who doesn't seem to mind being woken up at 4 am, by his daughter begging for money. By lunch.
The other was the elevator in the building we were staying in. It was tiny, designed to hold 300kg and it bounced when you got in. It reminded me of the 'cage' elevator in an apartment building in San Francisco my brother lived in. Equally small. Equally rickety. But the door to his elevator was a swirl of painted gold ironwork, much prettier. It opened to his beautiful apartment in the heart of San Francisco. Perched on a hill, the apartment was airy and light with high ceilings and huge windows.
I was 19 when I went to visit him. He was only 21. But had been living there a couple of years already. As soon as he graduated from high school, he packed his bags and left. Found a friend there and starting making his way.
Unfortunately, his way included beer. A lot of it. And before he probably knew it, he had a huge problem. He would fall asleep with a beer in his hand and wake up to have another. His refrigerator was barren except for a few condiments. We had a good week though. He took me everywhere. The Sutro baths, the wharves, Alcatraz, the shop he worked at. He worked in a toy store that sold a lot of very deluxe kites. He got really good at flying them and one way or another we all ended up with a kite or two.
He must have been good at this job because his boss asked him to open a store in Hawaii. He packed and left San Francisco. But he took his drinking problem with him. Where it got worse.
His life on Hawaii came to a screeching halt when he ended up with a traumatic brain injury after a drunken brawl. Three weeks in the hospital and a parental escort back to the US mainland. This time he not only brought his drinking problem but also seizures as a result of the TBI. Life grew even more complicated. He tried though. Worked. Bought a truck. Lived in an apartment on his own. Enrolled in a few classes. But he was sick. Drinking, seizures, and now thyroid problems. He tried to deal with all of those things but it's hard when you're unwell, have lousy insurance, and only accept help sporadically. Then he had a major heart attack. Followed by three more.
The fourth was too much. He died while out walking. On a street he was familiar with and had walked many, many times. Only two blocks away from where he grew up. His cup of tea still on the porch.
That is why on the beach in Barcelona, when a guy came through selling cervesas at 10 am, I talked to my two oldest kids about alcohol and drugs and all the damage that can happen. We went through their family tree. I laid things bare. They listened. I hope.
I took the elevator after that. Still reminded me of Dan but maybe that's not such a bad thing. Sometimes it's good to be reminded.