I am sitting in a cafe in the middle of an ancient bull fighter’s arena in Barcelona, Spain, that rivals any modern mall I’ve seen. There’s a cup of hot chocolate the consistency of a melted Hershey bar next to me. My two years of high school Spanish is just enough for shopkeepers to smile indulgently and speak to me in their perfect English. It should embarrass me, but I’m relieved.
A woman with a 5 month old named Gabe is meeting me. Teething and totally off his schedule, Gabe is the mellowest kid I’ve ever seen, but there are some inescapable realities of traveling with an infant we’re dealing with.
Gabe is a chick magnet.
Or maybe just a person magnet because it’s not just abuelitos or senoritas that make google eyes at him. On the metro Gabe had hard-core punk rockers–tattoos, shaved mohawks, and piercings–vying to make him smile.
Good thing he’s a soft touch with an easy toothless grin.
There’s something about a baby that reminds us we’re all human. With Gabe around, everyone is a little softer, kinder. Gabe is soaking it all in through his big baby eyes and mostly going with the flow.
Some day his parents will show him his passport photo and tell him all about his trip to Spain. He won’t remember a thing. But maybe, just maybe when he’s long out of diapers and binkies there will be a sound, a scent, a flash of light on a curved wall and for a brief moment Gabe will remember the Barcelona sun and the pattern of leaves against the sky on the Las Rambas walkway as it arced above his stroller canopy.
Or at least wonder why the sound of a train always puts him to sleep.