My latest little journey took me just ten miles and lasted only two hours, but it left me in Barcelona, Spain.
It began at the home of a close family friend who had asked for my assistance in determining how she and her family should handle her late husband’s extensive collection of antiques. Present at the meeting was the family attorney, whom I shall call Robert.
Divorced, Robert has two grown sons and is approaching seventy, but looks like he could step onto a handball court and hold his own against anyone. Robert has officially retired from the law firm he co-founded here in Asheville. He described his law partner as being a tireless worker ever since he had left law school some forty years earlier. Finally, five years ago, his partner took one of his rare vacations. He went pheasant hunting in South Dakota, and in a remote, snowy cornfield dropped dead of a heart attack.
And so, as Robert explained, at age sixty-five he sold his house and all his furnishings and bought a forty-foot sailboat. He hired a two-man crew and sailed to the Bahamas, spent some time island hopping, then set sail across the Atlantic Ocean for the Mediterranean Sea. After a brief stop at the Azores Islands off Portugal, they sailed past the Rock of Gibraltar and into the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea — and his lifelong dream.
He and his crew journeyed lazily along the southern coast of Spain, occasionally stopping at small fishing villages, where Robert would moor his boat, leave his crew to watch over it, and wander about the town and countryside, sometimes, if he so desired, staying for a few days. Then, when he was ready, they would sail on up the coast, eventually making their way to Barcelona, population 1.6 million people.
And it was there that Robert fell in love.
Robert had flown back from Barcelona to the states in early December, coming to see his sons and friends, and staying at his small downtown Asheville condominium he rents out most of the year. We were meeting on a Monday, and on Wednesday Robert was headed to the airport for a flight back to Barcelona, his sailboat, his new home, and his new life.
And he was like a kid who couldn’t wait for Christmas morning.
Robert struck me as a realist, who knows that he may not be living on a sailboat for the rest of his life. But, then again, who’s to say that he won’t? With a condominium back in downtown Asheville, those are two pretty nice options to have.
Regardless, when that time comes, Robert will not be going out with any regrets.
Until next Monday,
“Where will your Barcelona be?”