Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Alguero



I love my husband dearly.

However, the joy I feel as I walk, solo, out of our Sardinian apartment is overwhelming. As I step into the narrow, winding cobblestone alley I feel joy bubble up inside of me. Unable to contain myself, it comes out as a squeak, with a simultaneous skip of the feet.

Alone, at last! My introverted soul soars out towards the glittering harbour and up to the blue skies. This moment... is mine. I breathe a deep, satisfying breath. It is just me and my journal, and the waves of the Mediterranean, crashing against ancient stone walls.


I find a stone bench, warm from the sun, with the word "madness" written in green graffiti across it. An old, ivory building with forest green shutters and rust stains dripping from the windows acts as a buffer for the brisk, southerly wind. Perfect. Sitting down, a smile of contentment spreads across my face. I take in my surroundings. The sea stretches out before me, my view of it partially blocked by what was clearly once a wall of defence. Little divots are cut into the top of the weather-worn stone, presumably for brave archers to shoot their arrows through. Catapults and cannons speckle the promenade, an ode to a time long gone.

Now in 2018, a row of apartments face the water. White-washed buildings with turquoise doors, pink fa├žades with blue windows, and yellow buildings with wooden shutters. All of them aglow in the late afternoon sun.


In the summer, this coastal walk must be busting with foreigners. But now, in November, the tourists have left, and the local Sardinians have the quiet, sleepy town to themselves once more. Shops boasting reams of vibrant coral necklaces close at midday, opening again later in the evening, or not at all. Half the pizzerias are shut for the season, leaving about a dozen still open, just a stones throw from our apartment in old town Alghero.

And the sun... oh, the sun! So delightfully gentle. I could sit for hours on this bench and not worry about burning.

This is happiness for me. A harbour full of gleaming masts, swaying and clanking; the percussion for the seagulls symphony. Nowhere to be, nothing to be done. Just me and my journal, and the warm, crinkled smiles of wizened Sardinians, nodding silent greetings as they pass by.

The sun has dipped behind a fluffy bank of clouds, streaming glorious beams of celestial light from behind it. This is my heaven. But it's time to move on.

Following the curve of the promenade, I step into the wind. My skirt whips around my knees as I walk, my cardigan billowing out behind me. The coolness of the salty wind on my face edges on discomfort. It reminds me how alive I am.

Stopping to lean on the ancient wall, I watch as the rugged shoreline entices the deep, azure waters to join it, again and again. Not a stone seems to budge with the relentless chase of the tide. Such bravery! Such fortitude! These rocks and the wall that is built upon them have withstood the waves for centuries, and will likely stand for centuries more.

The birds in the rustling palms behind me twitter with excitement. Twilight approaches.


In a few moments the sun will drop below the bank of clouds and hover above the horizon. This brief time of day is my most favourite, for it's the most mysterious. Shadows stretch, yawning across the pavement. Sandstone buildings glow, almost other-worldly in their luminosity. It feels as if reality hovers on the edge of another dimension. As if now, and only now, I could walk under the nearby old stone arch and be transported to another realm.

The moment shimmers with possibility! But the shimmering is brief. Lamps click on, pouring fluorescence onto the cobblestones. The spell is broken. The moment is beckoned away by the departed sun, now illuminating the other side of the world with early morning light.

All enchantment is not lost, however. The night is a new kind of wonder, a new kind of adventure.

For someone else, perhaps.

For me, it is my queue to head home. I did not dress for the chill that is now present beneath the darkening sky. I begin to walk back. Just me and my journal, and the slap of my sandals on the stones.


As I wander slowly back through the narrow, winding alleys, I ponder the moment that has just passed. Such magic always comes and goes with astonishing brevity. For me, it is a poignant reminder of the nature of life and the importance of presence. Appreciation for what is, and a child-like eagerness for more seems to be the only way to live a joyful existence.

These moments, like grains of sand in our hands, glint golden while we hold them, only to fall through our fingers and be carried away by the breeze, seconds later. Let them fall. Do not try to catch the grains as they fly away, lest you lose sight of the new ones being poured into your palms, ready to be admired.

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