Tag Archives: creative nonfiction

A Day in the Life of a Spanish Import…

I begin my day usually with the sound of clinking dishes, pouring water and hearing-impaired television seeping in through my window. I wake up, get dressed and head to class. I take the train because, sadly, I have yet to master the art of telepathic bus riding, as the stops saunter by unannounced. Not a bad tradeoff, though, as I’ve never waited more than three minutes for a train, something every Chicagoan would deem a miracle. A coffee, however, might cost you as much as four whole minutes to perfect.

A half hour and a sixty cent café amb llet later, I am in Economics class. It took eighteen months to get here but I am here. In Barcelona. Finally.

Let me tell you about Spain…The women are golden and curly haired, the men are dark and handsome. Moped riders are almost evenly split between genders, suit-cladden and otherwise, and it seems an almost unwritten law that every home deserves a balcony.  Every morning, the streets are sprayed with water to clean the previous day’s debris at just about the same time the Spaniards return from a night out. These people love to socialize and I am finding it more and more alluring to take the afternoon nap in an effort to keep up with them.

It isn’t out of the ordinary to see some light love making on the beach, nor walk home from Mercadona with a two foot long fuet sausage gently poking out of your bag. It isn’t out of the ordinary to stop what you’re doing at any time for a coffee break, or to hear lions groaning during all hours of class in Ciutadella…another comical reminder that you are not in Kansas anymore. It is strange to be in a hurry here. The Spanish stride is one of observance and existentialism, to put it delicately. Pedestrians of all ages and size stroll the avignudas and carrers gingerly and without a sense of time – tolerable on a Sunday, infuriating on a Monday.

Like most other European cities, alcohol is cheaper than water and a bakery is always within 100 yards. My diet of pan y vino is treating me well so far, but I fear I will need a real salad soon. Does Protein Bar deliver? Dinner before ten simple isn’t Spanish, but my American stomach doesn’t seem to want to cooperate. Snacking is vital.

After a whole day of classes and studying in the Dipòsit de les Aigüesa renovated labrynth of arches designed by Josep Fontserè and calculated by Antoni Gaudi, I head home. Students, couples and tourists accompany me on the commute and I begin to feel like I fit in. Even if its just a little.

Tomorrow is another day. And in Spain that means more tapas, more wine, and more animals roaring to the drone of economic theory.

Nero the Gyro

It was the early morning hours of a Friday seeping into Saturday when I decided to head home after a somewhat tame evening out with friends. Dinner with the roomie, networking at my alma mater, and finishing the night off with a few drinks at the bar. The meal was local at a British gastropub famed on the intranet to the likes of Yelp, Zagat and Metromix. It was my idea to try it. The alumni event was fun but rather subdued and the only late night cocktails I ended up entertaining were H, 2, and O.

At campus and later walking around Old Town, I kept feeling a slightly painful, stuffed knot at the bottom of my rib cage, possibly from nostalgia, but most likely from my overly modern, avant-garde Greek gyro and fries. It was basically a fourteen dollar kebab sandwich. I should’ve been suspicious all along. But, I thought I was fine and continued the evening as planned.

After the night had ended, I came home and carefully descended the world’s loudest staircase to the basement unit I had been living in for about a month now. Careful not to wake my roommates, I slowly crept into my quarters and folded the doors shut. I laid down and tried to get comfortable and sleep off the fullness.

At about 4am, a burning feeling in my gut woke me. Salacious tongues of flames were licking at my every organ, traveling as far north as my esophagus and are far south as my nether regions. Fuck. Without delay I scurried from the walk-in closet to the other side of the apartment where the bathroom was.

But it was too late. A Roman candle had been lit and I was to be seared.

In my illness infused delirium, I imagined Nero, ancient emperor, laughing and singing, while my body writhed in agony. (Food poisoning clearly does not dull an Italophile’s imagination). As I glanced up at the mirror, I saw the palest marble skin I’d ever seen stare back at me with a devastated set of lavender lips dropped open. I instantly crumpled to the floor, waiting for the wave of nausea to pass.

I’ll burn it down, I’ll burn it down, And build my palace on the same ground…

It’s just a legend but anything can have power if at least one person believes it to be true. And right then, I believed I was being attacked.

I eventually made it back to my chambers and laid as still as a corpse for the next few hours. By daybreak, I was desperate to fight back. Not one to be defeated, I quickly filled up as much as I could tolerate on Gatorade, saltine crackers and Ibuprofen.

Take that.

The hours coalesced into one big feverish haze with a smattering of FIFA penalty kicks and House Hunters International. I sunk right into bed like a gladiator worn out from battle.

The next morning, it seemed my tactical response had worked. No fever or quite so many belly aches, but still a few sparks every so often. I settled on the couch and decided to focus my mind again on the TV, but kept my senses alert for any surprise attacks.

Drifting in and out of sleep, I imagined I saw him again, slithering between the fridge and kitchen and softly sneaking up behind the antique green leather chair to see if he could stoke the remaining embers…

I sat up and decided one final blow was necessary to squash this tyrant and take back control of my own body. Four pills and half a ginger ale later, all was quiet. I sat in vigil for the next couple hours and thankfully did not hear any voices nor footsteps. I peeled myself off the couch and melted into bed.

The following day, I was completely healed. Veni, vidi, vici. Cured. Liberated. Cleansed.

Just in time to go back to work.