We wander among them, following the sea. In first blinding bright sunny day since our arrival we come to the ancient archway that marks the entrance into the old city of San Sebastian and here we pause. Under the arch a young man is playing guitar. His sound is melancholic Flamenco. It echoes through the arch and on to the docks where twenty or so people lie on park benches or on the cement docks or under trees, dozing.
Larry and I sit down as well and I put my head in his lap and proceed to drift off as the young man plays. The music is sad, filled with yearning. It reminds me of that Portugese untranslatable world - saudade - which I can´t pronounce either but means something like you are yearning for what was never really there. The aching of the human heart for what we cannot have or even know we want. Or as a friend of mine puts it, the engima of emptiness.
We sit on that bench, me with my head in my husband´s lap, our eyes closed, the sun beating down after days of rain and sadness. And that music, haunting, calling to us about something we cannot name. I am about to fall asleep when the music stops. I am hoping it is a pause before he begins a new refrain. But Larry tells me no. The musician is packing up. He´s puting his guitar away. He´s walking away now, Larry tells me. And then he´s gone.
On the benches and under the trees there is a heavy sigh. A collective deep breath as couple after couple rises from their slumber, their broken dreams and trances, wherever that music had taken them back to other lovers and moments forgotten or opportunities missed. One by one they walk away. I thought they were sleeping. But they were listening.
And then I think of the guitarist who made that music. He´s returning home with too few euros in his pocket where his mother will yell at him or his wife will doubt him and his children ignore him.
Or perhaps he´s just returning to empty rooms and a bottle of Rioja. He doesn´t know that the people who seemed to be sleeping were listening and his music brought remembering. He doesn´t know that because of him for a moment we were all dreaming the same dream.