I walked down the street in Barcelona toward the flat we were renting for a week, and spotted one of my favorite people, waiting with her husband and chidren. We hugged and then spent the next three days together. We nursed our babies and played with our three-year-olds. We ate churros and drank thick Spanish hot chocolate on Las Ramblas. We drank too much sangria at lunch and laughed all the way home. We caught up on gossip and struggled to put into words the way we feel about putting our careers on hold to have this time at home with our children while they are young. And then we hugged again as she and her family left to return to London.
I slipped onto the enclosed balcony and looked out the window in the middle of the night, watching the rain come down and laundry blowing on the lines, noticing flats around the courtyard that still had lights on. In the morning when the rain had stopped, I stood there again and watched a little boy across the way playing on a balcony and spotted his mother just inside folding laundry. I sat on the balcony with Brian, drinking the hot chocolate he had brought me while he had his coffee and we planned our day. And I sipped wine and wrote in semidarkness while I listened to Brian read a bedtime story to Adriana on the couch behind me.
Adriana chased me on her scooter as I hurried back toward our flat. She let me lift her onto the trunk of a statue of a wooly mammoth and then mugged for the camera. Adriana fell asleep on Brian's shoulders, leaning down to rest her head on his. She stared with amazement at the magic fountains and yelped with happiness when we got close enough to feel the spray of the water.
Adriana and Abigail jumped and danced in the doorway of a closed shop on a Sunday afternoon in L'Eixample. The chased pigeons on the Place de Catalunya. They stood on the balcony of our flat, watching swallows circling and swooping above. The rode side by side down Passeig de Gracia on their fathers' shoulders.
Little Toby toddled down Las Ramblas, ignoring the living statues in favor of the flower stands that had pots of flowers at his level. He smiled and waved at young women sitting around him on the metro. He peered eagerly at Lyra lying in the travel cot and told her "Hiya."
Lyra napped on my sweater in the grass in the Parc de la Ciutadella. She smiled at old ladies on the metro. She nursed on a Renfe train, in the cafe at Parc Guell, on a patio along Las Ramblas, on the floor in the corner of the aquarium, on plazas and in pizzerias and tapas bars, and in my wrap as I hurried down the street.