Here’s the tea: I’ve been trying to write a post for a couple of days now. I ended up churning out some pretty dramatic paragraphs about the time I nearly died of swine flu, because that felt relevant, but I quickly realized that I wasn’t up to the task of serious reflection. Illness is uncertainty. Some of us are more vulnerable. As a collective, we humans grossly overestimate our preparedness and immunity time and again. We should give a shit about each other every day, but we don’t. That’s about the sum of it. Talk to me in six months. I might have a deep post ready then. At the moment, I’ve had enough of them. So here’s something I’m sure you’ve never seen before… A PERSONAL UPDATE!
My Very Madrileña Quarantine
On Monday, I decided to escape from my apartment because my flatmate had left and I am (see: previous brush with death) a high-risk bitch. That being the case, I prefer to be with my boyfriend, who can brave the outside world for any of my pharmaceutical needs and who also, it just so happens, has half of my medical supplies in his fridge. So my escape was legit, guys. Mr. Sánchez, if you’re reading this, it was justified. I covered my face with a scarf and walked down the hill with two shopping bags, bringing only the essentials and the perishables–from medicines to mascarpone. When I arrived at my destination, I washed my hands for three full ABC’s.
Truth be told, I felt bad about leaving my neighbors. For the first time in the four years I’ve called Madrid home, I saw their faces. We hung our heads out of the windows of the interior patio on Sunday—introduced ourselves, announced pregnancies, and planned communal Bingo games. Notably absent were the 6th floor couple who my flatmate and I have taken to calling “the sex dungeon.” I support them 100% in their passion, but I think that perhaps they lacked some foresight in this matter. With the whole building home and living under this new quarantine-quiet, all of that very-audible and increasingly violent ball-slapping was bound to create some awkward tension in our nascent community. Such is life. I, for one, hope that the sex dungeon integrates themselves and that all those relative strangers will forgive me my betrayal in this bizarre time.
Do you have any questions about the quarantine coming your way? Literature suggestions? Hopes, dreams, tips, or tricks? Send them my way and, as they say these days, please keep your ass at home.
Mornings now are like the autumn of my arrival: cool, suggestive, empty and full.
This park has become a sacred place for me, a pilgrimage.
Year 1: I sat here and wrote lists. Reasons to wake up. Things to do before dying.
Year 2: I wrote a poem in Spanish, using words I’d learned in bed.
Year 3: I zoomed my way North on a city bike, promising JC that our destination was fairy-tale-esque. Everything had changed, though. We could hardly move for selfie-taking couples and fresh-faced parents balancing new babies on tree-limbs. A field of Instagrammable branches, an intro to social media for infants. The smell of roast chicken wafting about Quintana made me happy to be alive, anyway, and we didn’t take any photos.
Year 4: I broke a month-long alcohol fast with a tiny bottle of beer and a few gulps of wine. We played word-games, which bring out the best and the worst in me. The sun hid itself away and reappeared when it wanted to. Things were better without the blossoms.
In few words: it is the city I never knew I needed.
In more: This month is hands down Spain’s best kept secret and these are the reasons why:
There are actually seats on the metro. That means that you can easily escape both unsavory body odors and screaming infants.
Grocery shopping is no longer a fight against stressed-out parents, guiris, and self-righteous abuelos*. It is a luxurious experience, in which one can ponder lemons and compare pastas without being pushed. *I love my elders, but they cut in line all the time.
Temperatures are way more comfortable than they were in July. Think: going from suffocating in Satan’s armpit, to dancing nude on the tippy-top of Jesus’ index finger.
Lavapies and La Latina have street parties. That means that you may see any combination of the following: full-on suckling pigs roasting next to the post-office, men dressed like lady chulapas and dancing chotis, a gypsy selling melons from a wheelbarrow with the following invitation: “wow, I have huge melons here,” and more.
The sunsets are sexy as fuck. Sunrises, though? No idea. Never seen one.
People seem calmer and more open. As in city-wide blackouts or massive snowstorms, there is a sense of implicit community between those who have stayed behind. –> 6.5. On the flipside, though, some people have just gone completely mad. Yesterday the supermarket security guy was frisking a man and, upon pulling a bottle of rosé out of his pants, began a very intense interrogation which consisted of just one question: “you’re hungry for wine, are you? hungry for WINE?” I dont’ know if this is a positive thing, but you won’t want for people-watching at any time in Madrid.
I was sent to the outskirts on an errand on Friday, where I was gawked at by a large man in a straw hat (twice), witnessed one fight, observed three oldies gossiping in front of neighborhood graffiti, and then reluctantly returned to posh-ville.
Suspicion re-affirmed: I’m not made for the office life, and you probably aren’t either.