It’s 3-45am in Dublin Airport, and apparently we’re in the fast track lane. However, we haven’t moved an inch. The air is tight with the frustrations of hundreds of passengers all crammed together, hot and breathless under their face masks. I feel sweat run down my back in rivulets and gather at the base of my spine. ‘If you can’t say something helpful, just keep your mouth bloody well closed,’ snaps the girl behind us (who bears an almost freakish resemblance to Peter Griffin in Family Guy) to her travelling companion. Suddenly security opens and the queues shuffle forward. They are mercifully efficient and soon we are disgorged through to the departure lounge where I think longingly of coffee, until I see there’s at least a twenty-minute wait between me and a latte. LSB’s eyes wander towards the bar and I can almost hear his brain trying to compute whether it’s too early or too late for a Guinness. Either way, the bustling mass in line for their pints seems to put him off the notion.
And yet, I am not oozing my usual anger and impatience because despite it all, I am here, and even making it to Dublin to fly to Barcelona feels like a miracle. I will be meeting my friend Rhaiza for the first time in two years. I haven’t seen her daughter since she was four, and next month she turns fourteen. This all feels very wrong. It has been a marathon to get to this point with both parents finally catching Covid and my dad ending up in hospital. All this when my brother made it back from UAE for the first time in three years. For over a week my stomach has been in a swirl, and I’ve been demented. ‘You can’t smell burnt toast, can you?’* asks LSB, when after a lengthy search, he relocates all the passports, which he diligently left on the table, and I have swept into the blue recycling bin with a pile of newspapers the day before we leave.
Incredibly, our Ryan Air flight gets us into Barcelona ten minutes ahead of schedule. The airport feels almost empty compared to Dublin and the sky is a dazzling blue when we step out to hail a cab. There is initial confusion when I tell the driver to take us to the ‘Attico’ district in Sarrià, and he looks bewildered. I show him the address and he informs me that ‘Attico’ means ‘the top floor’, so I just sit back and let him drive, without embarrassing myself further. Upon reaching the apartment block I am practically out of the car before the driver has the brakes on, leaving LSB to pay up. Too impatient to wait for the lift, I run up nine flights of stairs by which stage I am almost too breathless to even manage ‘Hola’ as Rhaiza opens the door. The others have beaten me to it and as we all pour in, Jason the bulldog jumps joyfully around our feet and the preceding week of chaos melts away.
Follow up post coming soon on the delights of the Sarrià area where we stayed.
*apparently a sign of stroke. I did not know this.