A colleague of mine took the day off work recently. This wouldn’t have been noteworthy in itself, except that it was a random Wednesday, we were in the middle of a big project, and he was uncharacteristically cagey about the occasion.
After some gentle probing the next day, it turned out that Wednesday had been his one-year anniversary living in Barcelona. He had wanted to mark the day with self-reflection. The females in the office cooed sweet things at him on hearing this. The men, meanwhile, rolled their eyes.
I smiled wryly at the sentiment, remembering my own one-year anniversary last April, and fast forwarding mentally to the second.
With mixed feelings.
A recent run of seriously dodgy incidents in Barcelona has put my commitment to the city to the test. After being attacked both in the street and inside the lift of my apartment building, it’s easy – and tempting – to write the place off as a ne’er-do-well destination. (Morten was right. These are scoundrel days.)
But hell, no-one said moving abroad alone was ever going to be easy, did they?
The Spanish me
Pours olive oil over everything. Mayonnaise, when it does put in an appearance, is reified in the form of ajo-laced allioli. If it can’t walk on its own, it doesn’t count.
Has a vague idea of what’s going on in the League. (Vague, mind.)
Automatically looks to the left first before crossing the road.
Tenses up instinctively whenever she hears footsteps quicken or someone breaks into a run.
Never wears a watch. Has the feeling that doesn’t matter.
Touches and hugs people constantly, even strangers she meets for the first time.
Unconsciously veers to the right on escalator queues.
Never watches TV.
Always clutches her handbag firmly to her lap in bars, restaurants, metro journeys, parties.
Has an irritating tendency to exclaim “Uff, qué frío!” whenever the mercury dips below 15 degrees. Centigrade.
Frequently finds herself questioning what day of the week it actually is.
Can not remember the last time she saw the iron.
Has seriously considered buying one of those little pull-along trolley things for the supermarket.
Has no qualms about using exclamation marks and effusive emoticons liberally in email communication.
Is inured to the chronic reek of dope on the breeze.
Never goes shopping for clothes.
Is no longer afraid of speaking Spanish on the phone.
Has packed away the microwave. Gluten-free frozen ready meals simply do not exist in Spain.
Is losing her grasp on the English language at a rate of knots.
Finds herself, for the first time in her life, questioning how to spell certain words. Responsible responsable? Cemetery cementery? Hostel hostal? Japanese Japonese?
Has discovered that it is physically impossible to eat lunch alone (some apparently deep sensibility of Spanish colleagues and friends prohibits it.)
Never saves any money. Ever.
Is genuinely starting to consider the possibility that chilly temperatures in and of themselves may cause the common cold. Despite undisputed science that says it’s a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract.
Will never get used to the sight of people scrabbling in wheelie bins looking for food.
Isn’t fazed by working with colleagues from every conceivable corner of the world.
Is, most of the time, on reflection, glad to live here.