At 8:30 yesterday morning, I had been awake for a few glorious moments when suddenly I heard bass coming from the gas station down the street (where just a few nights ago they were playing “Da me mas gasolina,” you remember.) At first I thought it was a passing car, a very slowly passing car, a car that seemed actually not to be moving at all but rather standing still, with all its doors wide open, and blasting music that made the door frames of my cement building rattle. And then, upon looking out the window, I noticed a gigantic red hot air balloon being set up and lots of people gathering around it to celebrate.
I don’t want to fill this post with complaints. In fact, I’m tired of myself complaining. But I will say that by 3:30 in the afternoon, after I had left my apartment twice to run errands and go to a lunch at a friend’s house, and the party was still going on, “Parabens! Vamos! Parabens!!!!!!! Ana Luuuuuuciaaaaa!!! EEeeeeeeee!!!!!Yayaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!” over a loud speaker, over music like “I don’t like your girlfriend” for seven hours I had just about had it with this place.
And then suddenly, it was silent. The beautiful Sunday silence that settles in over a brilliant afternoon, whereupon the shadows grow long and pink against the butter-yellow building facing mine and everywhere I turn in my apartment seems half black and half gold. In the air I smelled jasmine from burning incense; somewhere down on the street were a few passing cars, and not much else was happening.
In fact, this weekend, nothing much was happening anywhere. I drowned myself in the pages of Middlesex, a book by Jeffrey Eugenides, and was so engrossed in it I rarely looked up to take a breath or a glance at the day. I began somewhere around page 250, when the natural light in the apartment was fine enough to read anywhere; at page 325 it required that I hold the book so that window light could illuminate the pages more clearly. By 475 I was in my bedroom, my back to the window and moving so as not to create shadow across the words, and when I finished the book on 529, pressed by the quickly fading light, I had scurried through the final pages before the sun sank all the way down so I wouldn’t be left needing to turn a light on, which of course makes any reading feel institutional and angry. I lay on my stomach on the bed, facing sliding glass doors through which the last rays of the day’s light wavered in, leaned over the edge of the bed to hold my book flat against the end of the mattress, and raced through those final pages before the sun and all its shine dipped below the horizon. It was a fantastic book and I recommend it to anyone who loves an active narrator and intricate family histories.
I find myself here at school today extremely calm despite all the work still left to do, and fabulously congested. My classes for today and tomorrow are being conduted in a tiny room where students are presenting their silent/independent reading book projects, and in which we will be screening films. (I love the end of the year.) It means, however, that I have very little fresh air coming to me today and want to take a drill to my nose to be able to breathe. By the end of second period today, my students were like, “Ms. C, why are you talking like that?” And when I tried to explain, they quickly ignored me and were off accusing each other of getting me sick.
And so. Another day is half over and I am now, officially, 57 hours away from leaving for home. My porteiro, Marco, each day now for three days has been doing the countdown with me. “Gina for home,” he says in English. “Like E.T.; Gina for home.”