I took the train from Monaco back to Barcelona by myself. I hadn’t planned on that, but when my friends decided to go on to Italy I didn’t feel welcome. I saved face by claiming that I was tired and wanted to rest before my trip to London in a couple weeks. They promptly agreed, not even making the polite invitation that they knew I would reject. I left for the train station at 8:00 while they sat in our shared room, packing their bags for a train to Florence the next morning. As I walked out of the apartment I could just hear their hushed giggles over the rattling of the wheels of my suitcase against the marble floor of the old hallway.
I walked out of the gorgeous building where we had stayed with friends of Michelle’s and followed the road along the beach. The sun was orange and heavy, about to dip below the horizon but clinging desperately to the sky, the shimmer and heat distending the bottom and pulling it down. The beach was much less crowded than earlier in the day, but a few overly-tanned, topless women were determined to get every moment of sun possible and the evening revelers were beginning to secure spots for themselves. Some early diners were sitting at round tables at the beach-side restaurants, waiting for the slow-moving wait-staff to take their drink orders.
I thought back over the weekend — our endless days on the beach, our trip to the casino, watching Formula One, and visiting the castle — and I tried to figure out what had gone wrong. We had spent three months together, Michelle, Alison, and I, traveling around Europe, sitting together in the back of our classes, passing notes back and forth under the watchful eyes of our large, Spanish professors, trying new restaurants and lamenting the totally unappetizing pictures of food on the menus, marveling over the incredibly low price of leg-waxing, curling our hair and swapping clothes before heading out to the clubs night after night. We were having so much fun. Then, suddenly, we weren’t.
I left the beach and turned into the city to climb the hilly streets up to the train station. Tourist shops poured out onto the sidewalks, postcards and spoons and soccer flags and playing cards piled on top of each other, sending out their siren song to the newly arrived and to those who wanted one last memento before boarding their train. I was still at an age when I liked mementos, when I believed that every day was worth remembering. But I knew that this wouldn’t be a trip that I wanted to remember. Somehow, again, I had ruined friendships. It wouldn’t be the first time and it certainly wouldn’t be the last time. I just didn’t know how or why, or what to do differently next time.
I boarded the nine o’clock train and all I could think was There must be something wrong with me.