Yes, I don’t speak the language- either of them (Spanish or Catalan). Yes, so far the only people I know are two adults and three children under the age of nine. Yes, I’m across the ocean from everyone I know and love. Yes, it’s unbelievably hot and humid and yesterday my thighs chafed enough to generate their own electricity. But believe it or not, I am 98% anxiety-free.
Life is good here. Yesterday morning, the oldest was still being a bit standoffish, by that afternoon, after I sang “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” for them in front of the new lamp they’d bought me, explained all the photos I’d tacked to my bulletin board (Grandma. Rabbit who thinks he’s a cat. Cat. Another cat. Brother brother brother, parents. Parents again) and played several songs on my iPod for the middlest, the floodtides of language opened. Instead of speaking Spanish or Catalan around me unless addressing me directly, they launched into full English.
One of the former au pair’s friends, another American staying here until September, was sweet enough to offer to get a drink with me tonight, and I’m hopin’ that happens and she can not only provide some American company and tell me about the English/Spanish exchange club that meets every Thursday, but also reassure me that no one is going to scream when they see me in a bathing suit.
I’ve never felt so conscious of my weight before. The women in this town, especially those under forty, are thin thin thin. Manhattan thin, but with muscle tone, because they’re not starving themselves, they just don’t eat like we do. Yesterday we had pan tumat (think I’m spelling that right) for breakfast, a traditional Catalan favorite. Toasted sourdough, thin-sliced, rubbed with a piece of tomato, drizzled with olive oil and salt and topped with a slice of jamon. I’m not using their words to be pretentious, by the way, I’m hoping writing them down will help me remember them. That was at eight. We all munched on grapes after going to market a few hours later. Lunch, at two, involved a mashed potato roll filled with tuna, shredded carrot, olives, tomato chunks, and frosted with mayonnaise. I’m ordinarily not a big fan of mayo but I scarfed this down, as I did the late, simple dinner of salad, steamed or boiled veggies, and grilled chicken, all seasoned only with olive oil and salt. As far as I can tell, this light fare works and tastes great, but they do have me at a slight disadvantage- with meals six or seven hours apart and consisting mainly of veggies, I may be hungry enough to eat anything.
Reus is lovely. Still have to post those photos. Three story apartment townhouses, all the traditional stucco you’d hope for, a cobblestone street city center with little shops nestled into ancient buildings. I haven’t had the courage to attempt to buy anything alone or eat out yet, but I have to remind myself this is only my second full day here and I still speak five words of Spanish and I WILL LEARN QUICKLY.
The youngest, not quite two, will probably take most of my working time and poses the steepest learning curve. I’m not accustomed to thinking about toddlers, and their need to explore and fall down, contrasted with a caretaker’s need to keep him alive. My instinct would be to say “no no no,” perhaps also tying him up in a laundry hamper until he’s seven, but for some reason that’s not how he’s currently being raised. Guess I’ll have to learn another way.
I love it here, I think I’ll get along fine with this family, and hope that the rumors of this mythic exchange club turn out to be true and they provide a fun social life.
Believe it or not, the only anxiety I have is not being anxious. I have to remind myself that if, for the first time in years (perhaps ever) I feel no conflict between where I am and what I want, well, darlin’, that’s how healthy feels.
I also have to find a Region One DVD player, as all my beloved “Grey’s Anatomy” episodes are languishing, unwatched, because the player in my room doesn’t like them. Aidan Quinn in Spanish, however, is surprisingly hot. If someone catches a movie starring him, Ben Kingsley and Donald Sutherland, watch it for me and tell me what the heck it’s about.