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Something Significant, sometime in the 20th century

Write A Personal Essay

Ah! What treacherous freedom you give me. I am at this time not yet a writer, yet I must feign to be one. I must choose among writing fiction, or nonfiction, or philosophy, of the past, the present or the future, yet I haven't even a definite style. So I choose on a whim.

It was a beautiful day. The salty smell of the sea was in the air as the cresting waves caressed the shore. The sound of many voices on this warm autumn day, in the many tongues spoken, didn't confuse me as it might have on a darker day. It was my a phrase stumbled upon in the pages of my dictionary, which was foreign to my ears so as not to have lost its original freshness and possessing a strange reality untouched by my questioning mind. I was in Spain.

That evening the air was warm and dry. Gunpowder could still be smelt in some corners of the street, and the paper shards of firecrackers thrown earlier by children were being shuffled by people's feet as they passed by.

In the bar foreign words slipped by me as my lax powers of discerning my surroundings focused dumbly on the hams hanging over our heads. I had noticed these hams in some of the other bars and began to wonder if anybody ever ate them, or if they were solely decorative in purpose. Thankfully, Imma leaned over to talk to me, "Eres reflexivo?" "You are reflexive?", was my odd and too literal translation. Nevertheless, I understood perfectly, and was able to promptly respond, "Si", and I didn't mention the hams. As we talked, I was so interested in what she had to say I didn't realize until later when she stood up that she was quite drunk.

The others at the table noticed us. Her boyfriend, Pedro, whose very Spanish name was not reflected in a Catalan face that was more French in appearance, began to speak philosophically. He had recently completed study of law, but was unwilling to work as a lawyer. We talked of unnecessary complications and of purpose. "I believe we must make the beautiful", said Pedro in English. Images of the bullfight began to fill my head. I could see the graceful movements of the bullfighter and the flourishes of color accented by the powerful, dark, charging mass.

There is something special about going overseas; it is a heightened awareness like that which you might have at a concert, but which lasts for days instead of hours. I would later go on to Italy and encounter exceptional architecture (Thomas Jefferson's model, the Pantheon, being just one example), which would stir my appreciation for history and the passage of thought through the ages.

I left Barcelona by plane, chasing the setting sun.


I believe this, as clunky as it is and hardly finished, separated me, with my otherwise insignificant credentials from the rest, and got me transferred out of Columbus and into UVA's A-school. Back then I had a wry smile. I had only begun reading that mattered a year or two before. 

In typical fashion I wrote this late night and Fed-Exed on the last possible day, already testing limits. Maybe it was too many all-nighters with only a few winks had in the Naugahyde lounge that sapped some vitality and kept me from finishing those few English papers required of me to compliment my study of architecture—that, and attempts at writing something...Significant.