Below is a conglomeration of life I either noticed or experienced in recent weeks. The thoughts are scattered and unpolished (like everything else on my blog, except maybe just a bit more). But I hope you enjoy a peek into life here.
“Hola, American.” A sub-Saharan man said the words almost under his breath as we passed on the street.
I didn’t think much about it until I was a few steps beyond him. How did he know I was American? Someone must have told him.
Due to the abundance of Russian immigrants and the lack of North American ones, my community assumes I’m Russian. In fact, when I started Spanish class, my Russian classmate told me that she’s seen me around and always thought I was a Russian.
Last night in class, she worked on forming a sentence with the imperfect subjunctive: “Trish has a face as if she were Russian.” After various corrections and alterations, we all were very familiar with the idea that Trish looks Russian.
“I thought to myself: I hope she makes brownies. And you did!” My student pulled the brownie plate closer to her and grinned at me with shining eyes. And she didn’t protest when I sent the leftovers home with her after class.
Little arms thrown wide with delight in overhead bubbles.
Four neighbors were on the front stoop when I stepped out the front door of the apartment building.
“Are you having a meeting?” I asked with a laugh.
No, two were just out for a smoke and had collected the others coming in or out the door. Like me.
“Sit down here. Join us.” Demanded the middle-aged man from the second floor. We hadn’t seen each other for a while so maybe he thought he needed the latest scoop on my life.
Not really wanting to wedge myself between two people with lit cigarettes, I stood back just enough to enjoy the breeze that waltzed down the street.
“You don’t smoke, do you?” The second floor neighbor asked.
“Do you drink?”
“Not that either.”
“What about the other thing?”
Was this a morality test? I hesitated, not knowing for sure what he meant. “Marijuana?” I asked hopefully. “No, not that either.”
“No. Making love.” He tinged a bit with this. I suppose you could say I had forced him to say it.
The lady on the other side of the stoop eyed me. “It’s not worth it. Men are too complicated.”
“You say men are too complicated!” He was indignant. “It’s the women who are too complicated.”
It was a good time to leave. So I made a light, overgeneralized comment. They laughed. I told them goodbye and continued on my way.
I had almost reached the language school when I noticed a woman was getting out of her car. She was a bleached blonde with dark eye makeup. The combination made her seem sad somehow. Behind her was a mural of a woman with streaking mascara.
Two sad ladies on the corner, almost like a piece of visual poetry, I thought, and continued walking.
I was in the middle of the crosswalk when muffins, donuts, and bread came skidding across the road toward me. I hesitated mid-stride. Was I hallucinating, my subconscious pulling up cravings for foods I rarely ate?
But no. A delivery van’s door had slid open as the van bumbled through the roundabout. The goodies inside had tumbled onto the street with enough momentum to shoot them in my direction.
I helped gather the packages littered across the roundabout and toss them into crates. The poetic sad lady from the corner helped too.
“Gracias!” the man told Sad Lady. “Chokran!” he told me.
I paused and looked down. Sometimes when I wear a dress, people ignore my fair coloring and assume I’m North African. Not that it matters, I suppose. Russian. North African.
I trailed Sad Lady into the language school–who knew she was going there too?!–and when I couldn’t get my questions answered at the front desk as I had hoped, I began to chat with her.
She was planning to test for English; I for Spanish. “Let’s meet for coffee to practice!” she said and we exchanged phone numbers.
The next evening, my neighbor and I were only a couple of blocks from home when we saw the drunkest person I have ever seen in Spain. He stumbled out of a salón de juegos and clambered on his bike. Both he and the bike splattered onto the sidewalk. He gave an unintelligible monologue at high decibels but appeared relatively undamaged.
Just a block later, a man bumped into my neighbor. “I’m sorry! I was looking over there while I was walking and didn’t see you!” he said while his arm gave an exaggerated swing in the direction of the park.
“No problem,” my neighbor said graciously. “It happens.”
“I’m sorry. I’m not a racist. And I’m not a thief. You have to be careful on the street. Hold your bag like this!” He tugged the strap of his man purse. Then he clasped his hands together, and gave a wobbly bow in mid-stride and began the same speech again.
And so we continued several blocks with his cycle of effervescent apologies and wobbly bowing.
My neighbor and I finally stopped at a store to let him get ahead of us.
“Well,” I sighed. “We’re only a few blocks from home. What else is going to happen? Should we go back?”
Hopscotch boxes drawn all of the way to 85, progressively lopsided from weary little hands.
I fell out of bed the other morning. I was freshly awake and rolled over, only to realize that during the night, I had perched myself on the edge of the bed. Fortunately, I caught myself with flailing limbs before I made a resounding boom on the downstairs neighbors’ ceiling.
Who needs caffeine? There’s nothing quite like tumbling out of bed for a delightful adrenaline rush.
A friend cried when I brought her a gift. We sat on the floor together just inside her front door while she fingered every item in the gift bag with grateful tears. Someone cared.
The safety of Grandma’s hand holding fast.
A house with crumbs and sticky that remind me that someone has honored me with their presence in my home.