On the southern Spanish coast, near Marbella, the Alboran Sea is desolate. Whitewashed houses, construction sites and roads are slick with greyness. We are awash with listlessness, the town and I.
Tourists slosh about the streets looking for distractions; I seek purpose. Ostensibly I already have one—I’m there to research and write—but the meaning beyond that is elusive. Returning to my high-perched hotel, contemplating the sea I can’t see, I think on how disappointed the ex-pat English retirees must be; their beloved España as bleak as Manchester.
I write, distractedly, unable to shake the feeling this is a time I’ll return to in memory. Like it’s some kind of pivot. Is there to be an epiphany I will thank these Spanish hills for? Perhaps a tragedy? Interwoven into the drizzle is its contrast to the sky-shimmer of the previous day.
I had sunbathed on my balcony, high above the arc of coastline, enjoying the sharp heat on my skin. In a siesta-haze I’d been almost intoxicated by the radiated warmth from the balcony floor, like someone who’d been a little too cold for too long. Perspiration and contentment beaded on my brow.
But here is the rain and the restlessness. Unable to chart the foreign and the familiar with any sense of direction, I list. There’s no heady pleasure in exploring a grey world. And I pace. Gnawing on fruit and a suspicion about my own superficiality. Or needing more. Or not understanding what there already is.
Today, through Brisbane’s drizzle, Estepona drips into my brain. That slice of Spanish sun and gloom still bewitches in a quiet way. But that memory has company now. I’ve carved other slivers of time which fuse the contented and the restless in foreign lands. They’re at home too. They are part of me. And all the time in the world won’t change that.