Monday, March 1, 2010

Lesson 1-Have a Friend Who Cooks

Monday reminiscing...same time last year.

I actually had no idea what month it was until I just checked the calendar this morning. That's a little scary and a little wonderful all at the same time. I seem to amble about my days in some sort of permanent vacation that I know has to stop soon.

Every morning the voices of the teenagers at the school begin to swell underneath my window at about 7:15.The rise and fall of their voices and then the eventual din of their morning chats wakes me up like one of those slow alarm clocks that gets louder and louder the longer you ignore it. I don't mind this alarm clock. But I never treat it as the perfect rooster that it is. Instead I listen, smile, make some sort of noise of contentment at their complete happiness at being alive (even though I'm sure through all their teenage angst they're not aware that's what it is), roll over, wait for the swell to return to the sea, and then promptly go back to sleep. Until I hear the rapid click, click, click of the heels of the woman upstairs. I hear the urgency of her walk as she gets ready to go to work and the doors open and shut as she leaves her apartment and ultimately, the building. I purr again because those are not my overworked heels preparing for a day at the office. Again, I roll over and I go to that place of half sleep where dreams are vivid and memorable and one sometimes has a little control over the outcome. And I manage to stay there until some such hour that half the day is gone and every disciplined thing I've planned to do today has once again become something I can just as easily do tomorrow.

Today was no exception. Last night my young, British friend Simon called. The glorious PAY DAY had arrived and he was starving and now actually had money to eat! Should we make some dinner? (That means let's go halves on groceries and Simon will cook). When Simon is willing to cook, believe me, I'm willing to eat (of course I'm willing to eat when anyone cooks) so we agreed to meet and go shopping. Simon was already enjoying a glass of celebratory cheap wine at that point so I thought we'd best get going if I was going to get this meal.

Simon, who is one of those blessed tall, skinny, bottomless- pit types, was so hungry and in such a hurry to eat that he raged through the market like a cockroach suddenly caught in a spotlight. I was anxiety ridden just watching him and didn't even attempt to keep up. I just stood in the middle of the market and waited for him to periodically return to toss something in the basket. I left it all to him, including the wine, which turned out to be a bad decision.

We came back to chez moi and he made an amazing smoked salmon/chorizo risotto that was the perfect food for my cold bones. Ah yes, my cold bones....

Yesterday it rained.... and rained.... and rained. Of course, one of the items I eliminated from my suitcase when I left was my umbrella!  (This was a necessary reduction in order to pack one more pair of shoes..the red high heels). My job yesterday was to find my way to an area of town where I will now be doing some cleaning. It's in a part of town that I need to reach by bus so I wanted to do a test run. I felt awful as I was still in recovery from a nasty cold but had given myself a task. I stopped at my little coffee shop to print out the map of my destination and got directions from Pasqual (yes, the same Pasqual with a foot fetish) on which bus to take. Then I walked to the bus stop and waited in the cold with my package of chocolate biscuits until # 3 came along. I climbed on the bus, showed the driver my information and asked if he was going to this particular address. He had no idea what I was talking about and eventually just told me I was on the wrong bus.

Dejected, I descended back into the rain and walked to the tourist center across town to get some direction. I was told #3 was the correct bus. No more time to make the journey because I had a language class at 3 o’clock. So, I headed to the English bookstore to get some textbooks I needed. They did not have them but they told me the store next door did. However, that store was closed until Tuesday. I then headed to the AVF (once again across town) for my language class. By now it's pouring and I arrived with water dripping into my eyes, smelling like wet wool and looking like a drowned rat. They immediately pulled me in for a cup of hot tea.... and the news that class had been cancelled.... didn’t I get the email? 

Well of course I didn't get the email! Perhaps it was mistakenly sent to bus number 3. Or maybe you sent it to the bookstore that's not open on Monday!

I ended up chatting for about an hour with a lovely woman named Carolyn who has lived in Europe for thirty some years but are originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin! I stayed until I was reasonable dry and my teeth had stopped their involuntary chattering and then made my way home.... in the rain. This is why the risotto was so welcome.

Anyway, Simon and I laughed and ate, and laughed some more and between the half-hearted political discussions and the reasons given for why the Internet doesn't work (yesterday I was told it was the wind!), we talked about the possibility of being roommates. It might just work! It would give me the cash I need to do the things I really want to do and heck, I lived with people for 25 years.... I’m sure I can do it again.  The subject will be pursued. Simon's food was brilliant as always, but his choice of wine was truly disgusting. Mind you, we drank it anyway but he's lost his sommelier privileges.

Simon crashed on the couch, too happily drunk and too wonderfully full to make his way up the hill and I'm sure my elderly neighbor outside my door this morning was intrigued by the nearly 50 year old, obvious Cougar in her pajamas, who was letting the skinny 27 year old out at 7:30 in the morning. The rumors of my own making continue!

One year later note: Simon and I never did officially become roomates but he did crash on my couch this fall for 6 weeks. And he continued to cook for me for which I will be eternally grateful. The AVF has still never figured out how to send me an email and this small town girl has finally gotten the bus system figured out. Mostly.


Originally published in the Wittenberg Enterprise, March 2009

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