My best friend and college roommate, Debebe Theodros, was well on his way back to the states. He had an exam the next day, so the minute he stepped onto the plane, I’m sure he pulled out his Anatomy textbook to read about gastroenterology. The rote memorization tasks of medical school made me sick to my stomach, and a thought of gratefulness hit me. I could have easily been in his position at this vey second, but in my sophomore year of college, something within me echoed the voice of the written word, so I followed this curiosity, giving me the gift of words and travel. More than anything, I was able to wield the freedom of my time, allowing me today to take a flight to Paris, instead of back home to New York City or Baltimore.
Now, it was just the two of us. Bhavik and I had created the thought of this boys-trip with exploring three international cities. Barcelona had imprinted some endearing memories into the mental scrapbook of our trip. My oversized smart phone, which doubled as a tablet getting pick-pocketed from a rowdy group of locals who were skilled in misdirection, sleight of hand and verbal trickery. The night club, Apollo, beaming green lasers through the air, slicing the darkness and searching for the wasted ones to spill them into a trance of kangaroo hopping, head-banging and arm flailing (electronic music). The tapas, delightful. The meals, underwhelming in portion and overwhelming in currency. The people, genuinely nice, but also genuinely clever. And the language, familiar because of our Florida roots.
It was time to move quickly to Paris for four days and then finally take a cross-country express train to Amsterdam to round out our European excursion.
I know that Paris will be quietly beautiful in it’s own right, and I cannot wait to visit the apartment where Ernest Hemingway wrote the everlasting words of one of my favorite books, The Sun Also Rises. But I feel a sense of unease that the first part of the trip, in it’s own novelty of three friends traveling to discover themselves, has slightly come to an abrupt end. Five days in Barcelona and my first roommate, my best friend, was on his way home to the states. Nothing would be as jovial from this point on. Lush seafood dinners full of dish after dish, tapas after tapas, and a full stomach before exploring an uncharted part of Spain’s party city was now clearly history. The two remaining were onward to another leg of the trip now.
I press my forehead up against the manufactured internal shell of the airplane and set my gaze at the double pleated plastic-glass surface of a window. I can see the tiny storm of moving electrons in the plexiglass shield separating me from nothing but free-fall.
I look back now and I say goodbye to the coastline. The beauty of the warm, wavy sand beckons my spirit. It tells me that I’ll be back to Barcelona because I did not visit the beach dunes and cresting surf at all.
I write then look back out into the wondrous yonder and a completely different scene has painted itself in the plastic-sealed outlet. I can’t look away.
Write, record, but do not miss the landscape, I think to myself. I tilt my head down to get an exceptional bird’s eye angle, and I see we are flying over what look like collective pools of melted rock, weirdly resembling the work of Guadi. Ahead on the horizon, I spot snow-capped, in fact, base-to-peak snow covered, mountains.
Small villages are scattered throughout the region like little topographic hotspots. The little huts are positioned the same as solar panels laying out under the sun. I stare until I can’t see them in my view anymore, so then I wonder, what sort of wildlife roams these mountainous regions.
Newly in my view, beneath the right wingtip, the land is covered and perforated almost like it’s got the texture of sheet paper. From up here, the earth can tend to look like the materials in a stationery set. It just depends how your imagination works, I guess.
We’re far up, and I’m enjoying the scenery from this all-encompassing view. I imagine a snow leopard pounce on a baby gazelle. In reality, I don’t think that animal face-off is possible in this region, but the thought makes me yearn for a Discovery channel documentary. I drift off into sleep, but before I commit to dreams, goodbye Barcelona — muchos besos from above.
About the Author: Suhail Mandani graduated from The University of Florida, where he studied Anthropology and English and conducted social experiments in entrepreneurship to help solve problems for students around campus. Three weeks after graduating, he moved to New York City on a whim in the hopes of finding a job and soaking up inspiration to write. He currently works on the client leadership team at a growing startup and writes any chance he gets, mostly in coffee shops, on the subway and in Manhattan’s Bryant Park. He’s also promised himself to make at least two international trips a year. He’s travelled within every region of the US extensively as well as India, Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, Spain, France, and the Netherlands. His upcoming trip this Spring will include Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter our next Travel Writing competition and tell your story.