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« a dose of self reliance | Main | transmitting hope (part three) »

transmitting hope(part four; el fin)

I consider myself a three- dimensional character. I’ve the attributes. Height. Width. Depth. And being of a certain age, I’ve a personal story. A history with failings, contradictions, ambivalence, values, flaws. Yet in Spain. I'm two-dimensional. Exhibiting simplicity. As a beginner. Learning Spanish. I show frustration. As the extent of my emotional life. I’m a bore.  And it’s Saturday. Following the Friday. That ends the first week of school. Forty of us. All Spanish language students. From all over the world. Are boarding a motor coach. On our way to Segovia and Avila. It’s 8 AM.  

We're all assembled in front of the public library. Where Mariana. A Spanish teacher. In charge. Is taking attendance. Shivering in her shear gray sweater. I give her my name. She looks up.  Pareces una cebolla. Con todas tus capas. You look like an onion. With all your layers.The idea. Equating my multi-colors with a vegetable. When I’m communing with the ether. High in the sky. As if a rainbow’s watching. Emotions. I've an abundance. Each with a hue. But I'll let her think what she thinks. To her,  I must speak Spanish.    

I say. Hay siete. There are seven. No quiero sentir nada. Ni siquera una brisa. There are seven. I want to feel nothing. Not even a breeze. Exuding pride. Presently wrapped tight in body heat. Wearing everything in my closet.  Wanting to relish an entire outdoor experience. Watching Mariana mediate her discomfort by rubbing her hands together. Her attempt to generate warmth. When I carry mine.

Then Christine appears. We're sitting together. She's the one with excessive sweating. I look up her condition on my smartphone. It's called hyperhidrosis. Keeping it to myself. Aware we all have our personal trials. And the coach pulls away. We go directly to Segovia. Where we listen to Mariana describe the working Roman aqueduct. The façade of the Gothic cathedral. The Royal Palace. Ancient city walls. The old Jewish quarter. With my understanding hitting a maximum peak of 30%.  Including her suggestion for lunch. Cochinillo asado. Suckling pig. A Segovia specialty. But, having seen already a pig spinning on a skewer., I decide to have a Rioja. Then a Ribera. Sitting by a fireplace. At a tapas bar. On the Plaza Mayor.  Christine joining me. Eating a potato tortilla. There I take off my jacket.        

Our second stop is Avila. Its medieval walls. In the Romanesque tradition.  Mariana conversing sweetly. I’m obsessing. More or less a wreck. There’s no green peeking out from my attire.  Discomfort’s next to come. With a change in the weather. There could be a frost. And my jacket’s missing. In Segovia.  On the back of a chair. I see it in my mind’s eye. While Avila's shops offer nothing aesthetically appealing. And I'm willing to spend my credit limit. I'll have to adjust. Wait for Salamanca. There I'm on a roll. I buy a beige one.  And an orange sweater. And then a green one. Excess is calling.

Onto Monday. I'm in a new outfit. The first day of our last week of school. I add a class. Conversation. Resorting there to employ pantomime as my assistant in getting my point across. Communication is, after all, a full body experience. As I go all the way to Friday. The last day of school. Feeling the joy of it all. My instinct ruling my behavior taking me to a foreign shore.

I leave on Saturday for Madrid. For three nights. Staying in a student dormitory. On the third and fourth floor of an apartment building.  Operated by the Don Quijote language school. In the San Bernardo district. On Calle Alberto Aguilera. Arriving by car. Juan driving. The same man who picks me up at the airport two weeks before. He’s speeding along and explaining. He's got a pick-up right after he drops me off.

Double parking when we get there. Grabbing my case. Racing off. A door opening. Another closing. I'm following. Meeting Maria. In minutes. Who's in charge. She's Cuban. In her fifties. And as Juan leaves. He offers encouragement. Buena suerte. Ella es difficil de entender. Good luck. She’s difficult to understand. And I get anxious. On top of being breathless and confused.   

Maria gives me three keys. A small one. The street door. The medium. My room. The big one. Requiring a lock with a horizontal slit. The communal living quarter. Where I am now. The only way to get to my private quarters. And she's speaking in a rapid fire clip. Waiting for my response. I have to flee. I go out for lunch and a walk. Returning in daylight. Getting inside the ground floor with ease. The third floor. Where I live. I'm stuck. There’s no horizontal slit in any lock on the door leading to the parlor. I need another set of eyes.

I run to the street. Accosting an adult male. Soy un estudiante de espanol. Me quedo aqui. Tengo la llave de mi puerta. Pero no puedo encontrar la cerradura. I am a student of Spanish. I am staying here. I have the key to my door. But I can’t find the lock.  He, answering in English, tells me my Spanish is terrible. I look like a crazy women with wild eyes. I must be an actor, in an episode of Candid Camera. As he checks the entry for equipment, qualifying my request as ridiculous and bearing not an ounce of truth. 

I implore. Call Maria. Here's her number. She'll vouch for me. But there's no answer when he does. I continue to look him straight in the eye. He relents. We enter the elevator. Out on the third floor. Two students emerge from the staircase. Pass us. Go directly to the perpendicular door. I turn and watch. They take out their key. Inserting it into a horizontal slot. About to walk in,  I go over hug them and the stranger. I'm aghast. All the doors are alike. How am I supposed to know which one is mine?        

There's the truth. Surfacing in its own way. The moment I display a gamut of emotions. Rooted in reality. Emerging as a believable three-dimensional character. Still in Spain. La victoria es mia.  Victory is mine.


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Reader Comments (9)

and RELIEVED. Glad you prevailed.
I so look forward to your escapades. The 'presentation' as much as the events.
As always, thanks for sharing. And taking us with you.

February 3, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterkerri

You make an ordinary adventure the adventure of a lifetime. So much happening. You transport your readers. And you mesmerize us and get us caught up in your experiences. It makes our lives a little more exciting.

February 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAnita Lippman

Yes, what they said. I was right there with you. Good writing! I always look forward to your posts, Jane. Bueno trabajo!

February 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGail

Para experimentar la vida una nueva; le da profundidad a la maravilla. To experience life anew; gives depth to wonder.. Gracias.Thank you.

February 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJane

I love it! My wife and I made it through nine days in Italy with two words: Gratis and Prego

February 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTip Biggs

Courageous Woman!! Great post!!!

February 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRuth Devorah

This better not be the last episode! I want to know more. And I want to applaud you loud and long for being courageous enough to do this. Happy for you.

February 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLaurel

What an awesome piece of writing. There is so much feeling and bravery. Besides you are very straight-forward.

February 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterHalbert Hollingsworth

Another dramatic experience well presented.
I could picture you there. New places bring new experiences.

February 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

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