On one of the many walks I have made through Palma, I witnessed a father bent over a stroller holding a blossom for his child to smell. It was a tender moment to observe between a father and child, where dad slowed to allow his child the opportunity to have a new experience. It also felt oddly private to bear witness to, but then again so much is made public in a city, that would otherwise be kept behind closed doors in the likes of the suburbs.
Where I have found many people retire to their homes where I am from, those in a city elect to spend time outside and connect in public spaces. Exchanges between couples that are generally not privy to the public eye are brought to daylight, an outreached arm from one stranger to another on the bus, laughter shared at the restaurant around the corner from my flat.
On the converse, there is also the continual reminders of illness, disease, and poverty. It was in Berlin on New Year’s Eve, when the sirens continued to wail and the blue lights whizzed by, that I realized just how glaringly obvious these reminders were. That despite the sweetness that I have witnessed in humanity, we very much live in a world of brokenness.
And even in the midst of the disorder and lack of real understanding as to why our world is just so, we are given glimpses of vulnerability lived out. Whether in the purest of forms, with those who curl up with a blanket underneath a bridge, seeking refuge from the bitter cold and tending to the physical need of sleep, or in a realm that we are more comfortable considering, in the space where friends weave their lives together over a cup of coffee and shared experiences. The matter of vulnerability, the hard work that it is to show someone our mess and trust that they will somehow receive us anyway, that is seen throughout the streets of these here cities in which I wander through.
In some of the very best and very worst of ways, cities showcase what it is to be human. There is pain and suffering, but there is joy and goodness. There is grief and lost dreams, and there is compassion and the blossoming of intimacy. There is a very real juxtaposition that is observed on the city streets, and while can be so simple to be hopeless in face of the depravity, there is very much a reason to march onward, to show others that despite the messes and the fear and the uncertainty, there is also value in honesty and love and knowing and being known.
And below, some photos from our first evening in Prague… (more to come!)
Trdelník, which is a sweet pastry of dough wrapped around a stick, then grilled, coated with cinnamon sugar, and filled with nutella + ice cream. A dream!Prague was a winter wonderland; each building and street had detail paid to it, as though little Christmas fairies came around and did up the entire town. It was magical!