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15 Minute write
Granada. A place of worn history. A town so lived in that its corners have been rounded through constant use. On a step in the ancient plaza, with its flagstones glossy through constant wear and tear, he sat for a moment to reflect. The sun was setting. The temperature, perfect for short sleeves, a small cerveza was working its way through his bloodstream. Around him, doves, probably pigeons, but white and coo-ing and not at all manky like London's flying rats. They were picking crumbs from the floor, the waiters would sweep off the tables with small brushes they hid in their aprons.
For a moment, a flood of warm contentment seemed to fill his every inside part. He could think of nothing but good. All the good things in his life, the good things that had happened, and how lucky he was to be here now with the people he loved and in a town that welcomed and seemed to respect him. Everything had fallen into place. There were no dark corners, there were no failures, upsets or miseries.
But almost as soon as he felt this, almost as quickly as the warm evening light passed from his face, did things turn. He would look back at this exact moment, he knew and realised that it was the highlight of his life, that it was the happiest moment of his life. Not his marriage, his first pay rise, not the publication in a national periodical, his brief moment on Radio 4, nor the birth of his children or their going to university. It would be here - a moment of perfect solace.
He still thinks back to this day, and he wonders whether things would be different if he knew what would unfold and start to undo. He wondered whether, were he to know how much time he had left, he would try to savour the moment a bit more or whether that would have spoiled it. Perhaps it would not even have been possible.
He stares at the photograph, taken by his wife, of him on those steps. He is so familiar with the photograph, with the moment, and with the emotion. Yet he cannot recall the exact way that it felt in isolation - he feels that the picture, in some way, is like the film of the book - and he’s forgotten how the book goes, probably even lost it, it’s out of print, it will never be read again.
He thinks of his bad luck - or maybe it is just fate - he thinks of his daughter and how her life has spiralled out of control and how in regaining control she has lost what she was and lost him. Perhaps that was part of why he faced this life sentence now. No, he couldn’t blame her for biology. The mutating genes would have run their course irrespective of her problems and her going off the rails.
He cannot look at any other photos from that holiday. He can barely let himself look at any photos, bar the one on the steps. They hold despair, they are all reminders and taunts. Perhaps if he had spent more time in front of the camera with the people that he shot, rather than hiding behind it and becoming abstracted from their worlds he might not feel so alone now.
The Alhambra had disappointed him at the time. The hype and the queues and the bustle in a place that should have been so peaceful. He had almost given up on Granada until he saw the beauty written into the city itself - the beauty created ad hoc by its inhabitants going about their everyday business.
Although I have some pictures of Granada none seems to fit this story as well as the image above - which was taken in Dubrovnik, 2022 on the Nikon d750.
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