Monday, September 29, 2008

Lying in bed, in the white, white room at the Hotel Opera in Valencia, the husband napping fitfully beside me, the shades low and the sun burning behind them, it was everything I never did when I lived in Spain ten years ago. For one thing, one night in this hotel cost as much as one-month's rent for my little room in Edu's apartment ten years ago. All my great insecurity, living in Spain ten years ago, gone and I felt as if I'd arrived. But it felt melancholy all the same. Spain has such a strange effect on me.

We were there to watch the popstar do her thing before an audience of 65,000 - she'd given us the tickets, since she was opening for Our Lady of the Perpetual Rebranding, and we couldn't pass up the opportunity, flying down and arriving a couple of hours before the concert. Wrestling our way backstage through the clueless security, we gossiped and watched the popstar have her makeup applied in her little trailer. Not meeting our Lady of the Perpetual Rebranding, who hasn't even bothered to say hello to the popstar, not even after ten concerts.

She put on quite a show.

The popstar, I mean.

As for Our Lady, I was rather disappointed. It was like Las Vegas for awhile, all glitter and kicking and posturing like 13-year-olds, but then Our Lady sang off key. I can't abide people singing off key. And someone should tell her that she needs to cut that shit with trying to play the guitar. She looked as if it was all she could to keep her head above water because the guitar was dragging her down, down, down. We left before she was finished. To avoid the traffic.

Back at the hotel, a couple of boys recognized the popstar, gushing and almost squealing outside the elevators. We paused to take a picture for them, boy then popstar then boy, before going up to our room.

We woke the next morning far too early and after wandering around the city - the husband lived there once when he was hardly more than a boy himself - seeing the old city gate and the cathedral and the mad monstrous and beautiful buildings of Calatrava, we went back to the hotel to rest. But with the husband napping fitfully next to me in that white, white hotel room, all I could think was how different it was ten years ago, and how very good that things have changed.

The Swedish word for the day is upplevelse. It means experience.

- by Francis S.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Mrs. W. came to visit, arriving the day after we got back from New York. We'd just spent three days with her and Mr. W. in Boston, so it was a luxury to have her stay. And then she prolonged her visit, so she was with us nearly a month. The perfect guest, Mrs. W. is. And what makes the perfect guest?

First, the perfect guest gives massages to both hosts - and the perfect guest is a trained masseuse, so they aren't just any old massages, they are deep and long, and if you request feet only, you get feet only.

Second, the perfect guest can take care of herself. She makes herself at home, but she cleans up after herself and even cleans out the plastic bags under the sink.

The perfect guest leaves little friendly notes about her whereabouts, half for information and half just as a gesture of affection.

The perfect guest gives you a goodnight kiss on the cheek and a hug.

The perfect guest is impressed with your cooking and religiously writes down recipes on her laptop while you cook, in between helping you out by chopping vegetables if you let her, because to be honest, you aren't much of a team player and it isn't just anyone you let in your kitchen while you cook.

The perfect guest loves to knit on the sofa while you play the piano and then patiently listens to you explain how the Goldberg Variations work and why they're brilliant and finds them as amazing as you do.

The perfect guest cries at your favorite sentimental movies as you watch together, eating chocolates and little sour candies.

The perfect guest finds your friends fascinating and not only listens well, put comments thoughtfully and laughs at all the right places.

Sadly, eventually the perfect guest will have to go back to Boston, to her husband, who no doubt has missed her dreadfully.

The Swedish phrase for the day is vi ses igen snart. It means we'll see each other again soon.

- by Francis S.