I spent the most delightful weekend in Barcelona. Totally worth the delayed Sunday night flights (when will I learn?) and today’s ensuing weariness.
Despite all of the tapas and Cava and beautiful sights and sunshine, the best part by far was bonding with the two small daughters of the wonderful friends-of-friends we were staying with, in their beautiful flat in Gracia with panoramic views of the city and a quick walk up the hill to Park Guell.
The whole family were an inspiration. Hashtag future life-goals all over the place. The girls and I bonded over early morning cartoons and potato cakes for breakfast, then we all spent the weekend playing and reading and chatting and running around.
I am still stupidly pleased that they love all the same things my sister and I did at their age, so long ago now – The Worst Witch, Flower Fairies, Roald Dahl, playing endless games where we all pretend to be sisters/mermaids/genies/pirates/superheroes and making up dances.
The age difference between them is almost the same as my sister and me. Like us, the eldest is bookish and a bit sassy and more independent; the youngest is cuddlier and endlessly good-natured. They are both delightful and exactly how I would like my own children to be.
When we were tired out from playing, the youngest snuggled into my lap and chatted to me, sleepily. She’s only three and a half.
‘What does that word say on your necklace?’ she asked, playing with it absent-mindedly.
‘It says Lily.’
‘She was my dog. This was the tag from her collar.’
‘Did she die?’
‘Yes, like Mimi.’
‘I didn’t know Lily. I missed her. Did you know Mimi?’
‘Yes, I met her at your old house. She was lovely. I really liked Mimi.’
‘Mimi lives in a box now, up there on the shelf.’
Mimi only died less than two months ago. She was a beloved old family cat, older than the two girls. She was old and raggedy and yowly and lovely.
Variations of this conversation happened several times over the course of the weekend. Sometimes quite tenuously. A way of talking about Mimi.
We looked together at pictures of Lily on my phone.
‘I like her. She’s so cute.’
She straightened up my necklace very carefully.
‘There. Now you can remember Lily.’
Oh my heart, dear reader. I have come home with enough love to last me through the winter, at least. I got home late last night – much later than I was supposed to. I was tired and grumpy, but there was someone to meet me at the station when I arrived, even though it was nearly midnight, which made my heart glow with joy.
This reminded me of an interview I read recently with My Favourite Living Writer, Emma Forrest. She was talking about her debut film, which she wrote and directed, and which I am extremely excited about. She made the film with her now ex-husband; the script was inspired by their falling in love, and they had agreed to separate when the filming finished.
On the challenge of working together at this time, she said:
‘This is a guy I married, who never said anything about how I slept with the urn of my dead cat in the bed.’
Yes, I thought. Yes. That.