I noticed this on my first visit there, 15 years ago. The women glowed. They shone. They were worshipped by the men on their arms. Young, old, of middle age. Beautiful, plain. Just the same, all unequivocally adored, all sharing the same informal, confident grace. All unambiguously empowered, as women.
I have never forgotten this, thanks largely to Tom Russell and the song he had me humming then – and humming still.
Tonight I am once again in Barcelona, filling time in the train station, waiting for the train south to Granada.
I sit in a corner of the noisy cafeteria, a fresh orange juice and fat slice of Santiago cake for company, charging the batteries of my phone and computer.
I watch as couples arrive, sit down, eat, drink and go.
And I watch the women glow and shine under the light of ordinary men who adore them, as if such adulation is their birthright, as though life ought to deal them nothing more and nothing less than this.
The accepted norm, a culture of feminine worship.
Barcelona women are women of easy comportment. They have no need to try, no need to excel – their femininity, regardless of how it is dressed, is prize enough.
They know this.
The men around them know this.
The rest of the world would do well to know this.
Perhaps it begins with we the women knowing this.