19 November 2006

Self-therapy

OK, so I'm going to cheer myself up by recounting the happy events of this weekend.

First, one of those weird maybe-coincidence things: On Thursday I arrived in Barcelona airport and as I was walking toward the train, a man with an Irish accent neared and explained that his luggage had been stolen and that he needed to get to the Irish embassy and could I spare him five euros?

Now, usually I don't just hand out money, but while he was talking I was thinking that his face looked vaguely familiar. While rooting around in my wallet--no five, had to be a ten, I couldn't very well ask him for change--I asked where he was from, where his bag was stolen, etc. He was very nice and grateful for the money, and as I walked off, it dawned on me: He said his bag had been stolen in the Sants train station! When I was in Sants the previous weekend, I'm almost certain that I saw him leaving the police office with his arms around a crying woman (which is why they caught my attention). Is it possible that I was there when a guy's bag was stolen and then, after a quick trip home to Belgium, was there to be asked for money by the very same person? I wish I had run back to ask.

Then, after dropping my bags off at iaia's house, I got to spend the evening wandering around the center of Barcelona with a big smile pasted on my face, just because it felt so good to be there. First I stopped off at the glittering opera house to pick up the Lucia di Lammermoor tickets for the following night.

By the way, that was the surprise I referred to in an earlier post, my gift for M for his saint's day: yes, you heard right, Spanish people basically get to have two open-presents-and-celebrate-me days. Like a half-birthday. This was, however, a belated present, since I had totally forgotten the day, which had fallen on the previous weekend along with the town festival in M's hometown (because the town's patron is the same saint), involving street food, fair booths, ponies, a Mozart concert at the century-old church across the street, exhibition openings, and "correfocs" (a highly scary Catalan tradition involving people dressed as dragons and dancing around with loud bangs and fire-spouting sticks and deliberately running towards the crowds; I'm always more scared than even the children and am convinced we're going to get set on fire). So every year, if he's home, M gets a sort of double celebration. I forgot about it entirely because we unlucky Americans have only one birthday-like day and do not, unlike Spaniards, carry around mental files of which saint is commemmorated on any given day. For the record, it was my first "doh! bad wife"- feeling moment. Forgot the saint's day.

Back to happy meanderings in beautiful BCN. I strolled up Las Ramblas, admired its graceful curve toward the Colom pillar, even benignly tolerant of the souvenir shops and tourists, paused to admire the candy jewelry in the window at the modernist pastry shop, Escribá, and stopped at the Boqueria market to buy some fruit--couldn't resist the gleaming piles of produce and hearing the fruit ladies call me "reina" when it's my turn to order.

Then I headed right towards my favorite bookstore, La Central, which has a great selection of English books (I've always wanted to compliment their buyer), and a huge inventory, including literary studies and poetry. I found three brand new anthologies of Spanish Civil War poetry, including a reprint of Rafael Alberti's 1944 collection of Romanceros de la guerra civil. Score! I also bought Cynthia Ozick's Heir to the Glimmering World, since I've wanted to read one of her novels for ages. (Finished it this morning: I liked it, but found the main character/narrator strangely cold/absent, especially for a first-person story; laughed when I read a back cover blurb that described her as a "plucky heroine.")

I spent several hours browsing and reading, and then headed to one of my favorite restaurants for solo dining, MamaCafé, right around the corner from the contemporary art museum and the Camper hotel. I wowed and astonished the waitress with my Catalan ("m'has deixat parada!", said she--literally, you've left me stopped!) and enjoyed a delicious meal that ended with--surprisingly tasty--rosemary ice cream with pomegranate seeds, and a chat with an American kid who sat at the table next to mine.

The evening only improved when I headed back to iaia's (M's grandmother's) to meet M upon his return from Strasbourg via train to Paris and plane to BCN (no, Strasbourg is not what you could call well-connected).

Saturday was noteworthy because, drum roll please, we signed the mortgage and the bill of sale for the new apartment! It doesn't quite seem real that we are now in possession of yet another apartment, and that we are total innocents now headed into the project of creating a kitchen and bathroom--we also had a meeting with the contractor, who seems to be very reliable and considerate of what we want (we'll see where that stands five months from now...).

We celebrated by heading off to the opera. The seats were bad (15% and 10% visibility were the best I could find at the last minute), but at the intermission we switched to fabulous, expensive seats. The principles all had exquisite voices, and the Lucia (Patrizia Ciofi) carried off the notoriously difficult mad scene to perfection. I love the interplay with the flute in that aria, as if she is chasing a chimerical happiness, the Edgardo that only she can see. Also, I hadn't remembered how beautiful the harp solo in the first act (?) is. M and I agreed that the costumes were a little clichéd (doesn't every production these days clothe the singers in drab, vaguely world war I or II uniforms?), but that the set, despite its severe gray squares, was really quite effective in conveying the sense of the mounting opposition that backs Lucia into the corner of her murder and madness (from a fem-crit perspective, the inevitable result of her father, brother, and even lover's patriarchal negotiations, reinforced by law and religion, that proscribe her actions from every direction).

After the opera we went to a restaurant we've wanted to try for a while, called Organic, which serves, um, organic food (very tasty). As we paid, the woman who owns the place wanted to know all about our vegetarian-non-vegetarian marriage. She told us about her "awakening," and that she could never marry a carnivore, so she insisted to M several times that my love for him had to be "amor verdader," true love. It was an odd moment to hear a wide-eyed stranger pronounce upon our marriage, but we couldn't argue about the "amor verdader" part!

The next morning--yesterday--we got up at 5 am to fly back to Brussels, so that was it for our very quick trip, but it was a lovely one, and we even ran into a good friend of ours, who we hadn't seen for a while, in the line for our plane. A good end to 36 hours in Barcelona!

4 comments:

Aaron said...

Robin oh Robin,

How I love to read your musings....

Actually, this is my very first visit to Cant D'ocell (I can't believe what I've been missing)...but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It's amazing how after reading your posts, I want to read, write, cook, travel, learn a language, go on adventures AND get married...all at the same time. Thank you for your incredible writing ability. You have made a bright spot in my day...

Love you. Aaron

Anonymous said...

Dear daughter,
What fun to tune in to a literate blog...and from a member of my own family, no less! Amazed and gratified I am. But Vogz has been here reading before. That is cool, too.
And is it ok to skim down to the earlier posts before reading today's blog? I sure hope so. I promise to try to stay up to date.
Consider this a lot more than polite clapping of hands from your very proud and blessed dad.
Love, Mark V.

Anonymous said...

Dear daughter,
What fun to tune in to a literate blog...and from a member of my own family, no less! Amazed and gratified I am. But brother Vogz has been here reading before. That is cool, too.
And is it ok to skim down to the earlier posts before reading today's blog? I sure hope so. I promise to try to stay up to date.
Consider this a lot more than polite clapping of hands from your very proud and blessed dad.
Love, Mark V.

Robin said...

Aaron,
You should do all those things! But doing them at the same time might be tricky. It would make for a very busy day, and getting married is generally acknowledged to fill up the appointment book, and the bride probably wouldn't like it if you went on adventures and decided to cook.
love, Rob
PS: marriage??? hmmm...??? I should be allowed to rib you about this subject because you spent several years asking me when I was going to marry M.