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Derek J.

Climbing a steep grade in Barcelona, Ciudad Condal, and armed with a vague but committed agenda and a small twist of metal and stone from London in my pocket, I led the way, following the arrows and signs as they ticked off the remaining meters to the estate. Rarely does the universe conspire to mark out for you, literally, the path to one of those moments in which you look back and say, "There, right there, that's where everything changed." Suddenly, the park opened before us, and I started to sweat. This had less to do with the strange, lukewarm dampness than with what I had tucked carefully away in an indigo box. Tara kept saying that we had to be back at the hotel by 2:00 pm, but I convinced her that we had to see this park. When I found the perfect spot, she suggested for the third (fourth?) time, with an increasing sense of urgency, that we head back down to the train. I took out her camera and asked her to smile. The first picture neatly captured the look I get when it's clear she is humoring what she assumes is one of those silly ideas that gets stuck in my head. She managed the smile for a second. We sat down in a small alcove for the third picture. Right about then, as she looked down to fidget with her watch, I apologized for dragging her up a small mountain. I told her I had a question to ask on bent knee with an open box. After a long, contemplative moment punctuated by a group of high school girls who erupted into knowing giggles from a nearby set of stairs, she said yes.