The coffee maker is going and it’s just before 9. None of the lights are turned on in the apartment. It’s actually the espresso pot that is going, but there is an automatic coffee maker on the counter and beneath it sits a pink “I [heart] NY” mug.
F. is still sleeping. His mother is ranting at me in Spanish. I do not speak Spanish. Confronted with a language I don’t understand, my brain somehow defaults to speaking German. Ich habe keine Ahnung warum. I gather from her hand gestures that she is saying “He sleeps too much!”
Everything runs later here: the buses, the meals, me. I almost missed my flight. I almost missed the bus from Malaga to Granada. We almost missed the bus from Granada to his village. The Andalusian lethargy is in vibrant bloom this week given the heat. The espresso maker only takes a few minutes on the stove, but the ritual of collecting milk and sugar takes a few steps. The house has one shower and two refrigerators. All I have done from the moment I arrived is eat. It’s heaven, it’s sacred, and it’s as hot as an oven.
The best chair in the house sits right in front of the fan and is reserved for guests. I am roundly scolded within seconds if I am caught doing anything but sitting in it and eating, perching atop my throne. Anywhere I go in the house, a chair is provided for me immediately. The house has exactly the same feeling as my Italian-American grandparents’ home, except that in that home the best chair belonged to my grandfather and no one else. I could swap the photos on the walls here with photos of my family and no one would notice for months, years maybe. There is a photo of Francisco dressed for his first communion which is so adorable I might need a copy for my own home.
I tried to choose appropriate outfits for the week, outfits suited to the heat but conservative enough to greet Mama. Something I could wear in a cathedral. I picked a nice dress for the first day, but the zipper split immediately when I hugged his mother. I mean, of course it did, how could anything else have happened? I don’t think she noticed, thankfully. I seem to have been accepted by Mama because when she had to move me to the side she just pushed me on my bum without ceremony. Francisco’s nephew clocked my penchant for cuddling and crawled onto my lap for a bit. It feels like home.
I spent yesterday eating and eating and eating and I feel like an oversalted bowling ball, like a happy little watermelon. My stomach is perhaps less exuberant, but so far there were no issues with gluten. When I arrived I was hungry and Francisco took me immediately through a large market before we had lunch. I had a Pavlovian response to pretty much everything. I had cheesecake for breakfast today, and set to writing, and got a message from Francisco “My aunt is here. She brought a rabbit. Do you like rabbit?” So it seems I am having bunny for lunch.
I joked that I was coming here in search of a Spanish boyfriend: his name would be something like Eduardo. Eduardo is a part-time cheesemonger and full-time literary agent. Or he is a full-time cheesemaker and part-time novelist. I am flexible on a few of the details. You know, love requires compromise and all that.
I saw one candidate for a possible Eduardo at the first market, modeling the angles of his jawline behind the cheese counter. Perhaps I will have to go back. Make some sort of cheesy pun about needing some sausage. You know, a really classy first meeting.
We began the trip with a feast at a gluten-free seafood restaurant. I ordered one of everything, more or less. Or that’s how it felt. Then we careened through some of the narrow alleys of Granada which feel like a Moroccan Bazaar. We stopped in for a Moroccan tea. Mine was green tea with mint and cardamom. It was too hot for tea but the place was lovely and the sweat was a worthwhile expense for the perfume of cardamom and cinnamon.
The bedroom I am sleeping in used to be a closet. It is filled with boxes of mysterious knick-knacks which I am trying not to snoop through. The mattress is hard as a plank of wood, and my back is killing me after the flight yesterday. I bet Eduardo, wherever he is, has a much softer mattress. It seems the only logical choice now is to find him and bed him. It’s for my health, after all.
It’s too hot, the kind of heat where the news report starts announcing that elderly people are dying, that you should stay indoors. Where all you do is talk about the heat. A heat as intrusive as a toothache, pulling focus from everything. The air in the distance is making waves, it’s cowboy movie hot. A day when the coldest water from the tap doesn’t make a dent in your fevered stupor. When your thoughts become sticky as hot tar on a crack in the road. Where you try to start a sentence but find that your shoes are stuck to the ground, the rubber soles threatening to melt, the words lost and you repeat yourself again:
“What was I saying? Oh, I should shower.”
We took a trip to a local grocery store known for its selection of gluten-free products. We walked there jumping from patch of shade to patch of shade, like kids playing a game of “the floor is lava”. The floor is lava. Francisco was concerned he might run into people at the store whom he would rather not talk to. Of course, we ran into three of his relatives within 20 minutes. A distant cousin, recently widowed, who had recently earned the ire of the family after a long affair came to light. But he always seemed so in love with the wife, such a shock. So now we don’t talk to him, unless we run into him in grocery stores I guess. Then we saw his brother-in-law. We narrowly avoided a few of the village gossips. Every once in a while Francisco would say “we shouldn’t stand here too long, if the woman in that bookstore comes outside and sees us, well…”
He balked at my grocery haul of sugary snacks, I told him if anyone asks he could just tell them I was pregnant and having cravings. To clarify, this was a joke: I am not pregnant, I am just excited to try new snacks. Perhaps this was a bad joke to make in the grocery store of everyone-and-anyone-F.-has-ever-known. Then again, maybe the village needs a new rumor to distract the locals from discussing the heat.
They could say,
“I thought he was gay, but then he showed up in town with a pregnant American girl! I saw them at a restaurant, they were holding hands. But when she left the table he was immediately on his phone swiping through Grindr…”
I had cheesecake for breakfast,
We went out in the evening when the air had cooled somewhat, but the stone of the buildings was still warm when you touched it, even long past midnight. As if the buildings have veins circulating beneath their skin. We watched the full moon rise over the Alhambra, and I thanked the moon for everything she had given me over the past month. I have a lot to be thankful for: friends, full moons, and a stomach full of delicious food. I told her I would see her again in Vienna. The moon, that is.
Give me validation.