Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Barbara Barbara Barcelona

Seeing Woody Allen’s new movie Vicky Cristina Barcelona reminded me of my own trip to that city with my friend also named Barbara just after we graduated from college. Ours was a somewhat different story although not without adventure.

In the movie, the two girls early on meet an artist (Javier Bardem) who immediately suggests that the three of them fly to a small city not far from Barcelona for a weekend of sex. “Life is short, dull, full of pain,” he says. Why not seize any opportunity for pleasure?

Vicky (Rebecca Hall) is bright, skeptical, cautious, and engaged to be married. Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) is more adventurous, but unattached and undirected in life.

The movie chronicles their individual affairs with the artist and the involvement of his crazed ex (Penelope Cruz).

The movie is all about the conflict between security and passion. Woody Allen leads the viewer to believe that happiness is elusive, but that life is actually much richer than one’s personal satisfaction.

Instead of meeting a Bohemian artist, while hitchhiking my friend Barbara and I met a lunatic who tried to kidnap us. As we started to drive up that mountain that looks so beautiful in Woody Allen’s movie, we realized we were doomed, especially as we saw empty baby food jars rolling around on the car floor. When the car slowed to a stop at one point, I yelled “Get out” and we opened the door and jumped out. Not without an effort on his part as he grabbed by friends shirt and tried to rip it off of her. We were terrified as we tried to figure out how to get back to the city. We ended up getting a ride in a park service truck and declared an end to hitchhiking.

The movie makes you think about lost opportunities that are gone forever. I remember one in particular when I was on a trip to Norway with my parents two years later. After breakfast in the home of a lovely family and only an hour before we were to leave for the airport, the son who looked like a Norwegian god suggested we go out in the nearby field and make passionate love. I winced as I declined. Was it because I knew he was engaged to the mother of his child? Was it because I had already become somewhat committed to the man I would marry? I’ll never know. But it’s a scene that has been played out in my head a few times since then. Seizing the moment is something that comes hard for many of us.

I did find myself wondering which of the characters I would have been most like if we had met such an artist in Barcelona.


Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

Sometimes the question is better than the reality!

In the end, I am always grateful for the experience, but sometimes I wish I wasn't so much of a "go girl".

Your experience in Barcelona sounds like a wild one!

10:53 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I'm going to have to see that movie and I'm sure I'll think of you. I'm sure I don't seize the moment as much as I might, but there are definitely times when I could show more restraint.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kelly -- We were lucky not to get raped or killed. 22-year-olds still have a lot of lessons to learn.

Kristin -- You seem to take full advantage of life as far as I can tell!

5:07 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

Now that's an adventure - and a movie plot to boot!

Ever since I read In Cold Blood I've been terrified of hitchhiking; my risks are more sedate...

8:53 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- My mother lived in fear that I would pick up an evil hitchhiker, never dreaming that I might actually try it myself. It's one of those things about that trip that I never told her.

9:08 PM  
Blogger bulletholes said...

Passed up a Norwegian God...thats like saying
"Valhalla, I'm not coming"

9:12 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Bulletholes -- It was a tough choice. My head says I did the right thing, but my heart has always wondered! He was gorgeous.

9:15 PM  
Blogger Cyndy said...

Wow, crazy times in Barcelona! I've only been there on ships but it seems like a pretty wild place where you have to be careful how much fun you have!

As Kellyann said, your "what if" memories of the Norwegian would not be as tantalizing if you found out he wasn't as good as he looked.

10:01 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Cyndy -- I'm sure you and Kellyann are right.

You have been to some great places on those working cruises.

10:10 PM  
Blogger media concepts said...

Nostalgia tends to be tinged in gold, but the guy sounds like a total sleazebag to me. Did he really use the term "make passionate love"? I'm sure that's not the word he was thinking of.

I've had my share of, um, adventures in Europe, some involving Norway, but those are not the memories I really cherish or even think about.

12:24 AM  
Blogger KassyK said...

Wow, that is terrifying and thank gd you are ok! As a super paranoid person, that sounds like one of my worst nightmares.

On a lighter note, I am very much looking forward to this movie. One of my favorite foreign films was with Penelope and Javier about a decade ago.

They have wonderful chemistry. :)

1:02 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

MC -- I don't really think the Norwegian guy was a sleazebag. I think it's simply that the Scandinavians view sex somewhat differently than we do here. This was not a one-time encounter. I had gotten to know him through my Norwegian teacher when he was working at the Norwegian Seaman's Church in Baltimore.

The sleazebag, however, may have been his father, who offered me a job to "stay and work with him," but I think he had in mind more than being a clerk in his bank.

Kassy -- I am grateful for many a safe escape from a bad situation. Someone seems to be smiling on me! :)

7:42 AM  
Blogger Mo said...

I have been dying to see that film! And wow...thanks for sharing your own story. It reminds me a little of Lost in Translation, another movie in which leaving things unfinished/unknown is sometimes way better than the reality ever could be.

10:06 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Mo -- It's Woody Allen at his best. Do go see it. I love movies that make you think!

2:20 PM  
Blogger media concepts said...

Barbara -- I know a bunch of Scandinavians very well. Their liberal attitudes do not extend to cheating on their fiances and their children. Regardless of your previous relationship before he became engaged, the guy sounds like a sleazebag. That you felt his father was hitting on you as well makes it sound like they are from a line of sleazebags. You can substitute a more delicate term if you like. My only point is that nostalgia tends to gloss over the rough edges, and the experience, if it happened differently, might not have led to the most positive, healthy memories for you, so perhaps it worked out the best way.

KassyK -- the film you're refering to is Jamon Jamon, and was made all the way back in 1992. It was most Americans' first look at Cruz and Bardem.

1:34 AM  

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