the salty barrel girl


This restaurant.


I have Things to Say about this restaurant. It was amazing, this restaurant.

ImageIt’s called Ginos and I stumbled on it yesterday afternoon during a mild fit of hunger following a massage. The staff spoke beautiful English, which just made me want to learn the local language even more so I could reciprocate.

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The menu completely floored me. Fourteen types of pasta followed by twenty-three recipes to combine them with. In other words, you could choose gnocchi and then pair it with carbonara or pesto or napoletana and – Italian food was already among my favorite things in life, and this restaurant just pushed that love to a nigh-on self-destructive level.

This pasta is now my soul.


After lunch, I walked along Diagonal and basked in the cool weather. I’m only going to get a few more precious weeks of this gorgeous weather before I return to Japan for the Festival of Hellfire (known to some as summer in Japan).


I found this shop, called a jola do gato preto. This is where I will purchase all the things to furnish my dream apartment when I have one. Cats, quirky things, the softest and most colorful blankets in all the land – I was in heaven. I left without buying myself anything, though the temptation was high.


Recently, I’ve done a lot of research on floatation tanks, or isolation tanks. It’s basically a capsule filled with extremely dense salt water and you float there and have therapeutic experiences. Some people who’ve done it say it helps with physical ailments and even mental issues like depression. The idea is that the water, heated to exactly body temperature, suspends you and removes the stress of gravity pulling you down. You feel like you’re in zero gravity, the chamber is completely silent and lightless, and the detachment from your senses allows your brain to go into a relaxed state. Some people even see

I found a place in Barcelona that had such floatation tanks and I was curious to try it out for myself, so I headed there after my dalliance with pasta and the cat store. The woman there explained everything to me in English, gave me a bright smile, and left me to my float.

The experience was different from what I expected. It was fascinating on a psychological level especially, because for the first forty minutes or so, I couldn’t relax. My feet kept brushing the sides of the chamber, and that made me tense up, which just made my feet keep hitting the sides. On top of that, my body was just freaked out by the weightlessness. Something in me wanted reassurance that I hadn’t actually lost my body. I felt a little disappointed with the experience, so I played around with the water to at least get some fun out of it. Then, in the last ten minutes, that nervous part of me shut off and I drifted into this blissful, peaceful state of mind. Aaand naturally that’s when the music started to play, signaling the “out you get!” portion of the experience.

I’ve since read that the first time can be jarring, and some people do take a while to adjust. I’d be willing to try it again now that I know what I’m in for. If nothing else, it was fun to roll around in the water like a barrel.


I was supposed to meet J and O at Joanic station around eight o’clock, and I had several hours to kill even after my float. I walked slowly through the labyrinthian side streets in the general direction of Joanic, stretching my limbs out and rolling my shoulders back. I got to Joanic faster than I expected and spotted a sandy park near the station exit. I took a seat on one of the long benches, tugged out my notebook, and started writing my book.

Children and their parents drifted in and out of the park, laughing and smiling and stopping each other to say hello. There’s a kind of magic in seeing families of a different culture interact with each other – the similarities always give me a warm feeling of familiarity.

I saw a little boy around three years old absorbed in kicking a crushed soda can through the sand and shooting up clouds of dust. His mother kept a steady eye on him and on the people nearby, making sure he wasn’t bothering anybody; whenever he strayed too close, she’d give him a casual warning and without looking up at her he’d change direction and continue his can-kicking on a less obtrusive path.

Then I saw a group of eight or nine girls between the ages of four and probably nine or ten playing together. They were playing some version of One Person Is It and She Counts and Then Yells Stop and They All Stop and Then She Has to Run and Chase and Tag One Person and I Know This Game Has a Name But It’s Been Too Long Since I Played It So I Can’t Remember Aging Sucks. At one point, one of the smallest girls was It and she ran with a lollypop in her mouth after one of the bigger girls. She was slow and sleepy-eyed, and even though most of the bigger girls seemed to be running just fast enough to make it interesting, she couldn’t tag a single person. When everyone escaped into the Safe Zone, she stomped away with her face creased with frustrated tears. An older girl smiled patiently and ran after her, cupping the little girl’s face in one hand and bending low to talk to her. The little girl wailed something back, not quite crying yet, and the rest of the girls gathered around her, all friendly and calm. The little girl eventually smiled and the game continued.

A mother and father not much older than I am had their four or five year old girl sitting with them on the bench while that game was going on. The mother was beautiful but severe-looking, and her daughter resembled a much softer, kinder version of her. As I wrote my book, I’d hear the mother barking at her daughter in sharp-toned Catalan, and I glanced over once or twice to see what the girl was doing, but the girl was just calmly playing with some colored strings, braiding them and unbraiding them. Her father joined them and talked to his daughter in a calmer tone. When I glanced over next, the father noticed me and gave me an exasperated smile. I smiled back, and soon the angry, heated atmosphere around them cooled down. Something made the little girl angry and so she stood up and shoved her mother’s legs and pouted, and then her father ruffled her hair and teased her, and the little girl whined and buried her face in her mother’s chest and whined some more. The mother’s face grew softer with amusement and she pet her daughter’s hair with long-suffering amusement.

Then I spotted J across the park on one of the benches opposite me. She told me O had gone home from work sick and so we’d have to change our plans for dinner. Poor O. ♡

I suggested an Argentinian restaurant I ate at last year and we looked around a bit, but we found a pizza place first and hunger dictated we eat there.


Our waiters were extremely friendly, and they gave good recommendations and explanations for the items on the menu that we didn’t understand. One of the waiters was from India, and he sat with us after we’d finished eating. We mentioned some of our preconceptions about India, since neither of us has been, and he showed us photos of his home in Punjab. At one point J mentioned her husband’s trips to India and I told a story about my ex-girlfriend, and he showed us photos of his wife and son, and then he left to get us the check.

When he returned, I had one of the most rewarding experiences in recent memory.

J was in the restroom when he returned with the check. He hesitated, smiling, and said, “May I ask you a personal question? If you don’t want to answer, it’s okay.”

I gave him a dubious grin and said, “All right.”

He said, “Before, you said ‘ex-girlfriend’ but then after I asked you if you were looking for a new girlfriend you said, ‘man or woman, doesn’t matter which.’ What did you mean?”

I couldn’t gauge by his tone what angle he was coming from, so I asked him the same question: “What do you mean?”

J returned and asked, “What’s going on?” with a cautious smile.

The waiter flushed, embarrassed, and said, “You don’t have to answer, of course.”

I shook my head and said, “No, no, I’m just not sure what you’re asking,” as earnestly as I could.

He explained, “Well, you said ex-girlfriend and I…I don’t usually ask. Two women come in together, two men, they eat here, they sit together, and I don’t ask. But you said ex-girlfriend and ‘it doesn’t matter’ so–”

The gears in my head clicked together. “Ohh. Well, I mean. That’s just – men or women. I fall in love with people, not their gender or sex, so that’s why I said that.”

He smiled, relieved, and said, “I see. That’s good. That’s a good way to think. You think with your head and your heart about the person, that’s very beautiful. Thank you.”

We spoke for a few more minutes and then J and I left. As we walked along the street bathed in the burnt-orange glow from the lampposts, I smiled to myself. Sometimes people are just curious, and I’m glad he asked me that question.

Yesterday was a good day for introspection, methinks. And barrel-rolling.


One thought on “the salty barrel girl

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