It was a year and two days ago that I met Felipe at the verbena de San Juan (Sant Joan in Catalan), the all night party prior to the day of San Juan on June 24th. The verbena is a celebration of the shortest night of the year, somewhat belatedly, mind you, as the summer solstice in fact usually occurs on June 21st. In Catalunya, the night is celebrated with street bonfires (hogueras; fogueres in Catalan) and an inebriated beach party complete with DIY pyrotechnics, which every year rob the citizens of Barcelona of some three hundred eyes and fingers.
Like New Year's Eve in North America, la verbena de San Juan is the night on which the past is laid to rest, as symbolized by the burning of old possessions, and a new beginning is ushered in to the booming sound of fireworks. These, unlike in the blithely litigious and highly regulated world across the Atlantic, are randomly set off by the young and the dim witted in every imaginable corner, giving the city the sound and smoke filled look of war torn Bosnia.
It's also a night when sex is in the air and the atmosphere is rife with expectation. Everyone, from the packs of pink British boys to the bronzed American blondes to the scantily clothed Brazilians of both genders, wants some. And, on the night of San Juan, they're likely to get some, particularly if they wait long enough. By 4 or 5am, with the joints smoked and the ecstasy dissolved and the bottles dry, there's little to do in the sand other than kiss. And 6am, when the weary police enter to disperse the crowds and make room for the dutiful clean up crews, is the moment to take your San Juan sweetheart home, bobbing alongside you like the magical, if slightly deflated, balloon your parents tied to your wrist at the town fair so many years ago.
Of course, if you're anything like me, you won't let your new love upstairs after the two hour walk home from the beach, leading the excessively proud gentleman, or lady, as the case may be, to refuse your number and walk off in a huff. If that should happen to you, don't worry. Repentance for actions taken in haste is swift. In other words, you may get your fairy tale ending yet.