At some point, the move, the sleep adjustment, the “Not quite what I meant but I don’t know how to say it,” all catches up with you. It’s like when my son, Ben, was a toddler and I could tell he was overwhelmed and would not be happy until we met his seeming demand that everything in the world be shifted two inches to the left.
For Jiab and me, it hit one Friday morning. We went to register at a municipal office but found we were missing a document and had to come back. It was a humid day, with storms threatening to roll off the mountain by mid-day, so the persuasive pressure to get things done was reinforced by a growing thickness in the air that made clothes stick to the skin.
Worst of all, we were looking in frustration for netting at every ferretería (hardware store) we could find. Our kitten loves the terrace, but being five floors up, we wanted a little netting to keep her off the ledge. Despite trudging to five or six stores, no one had what we wanted. I was irritated in that, though I knew the word for netting (la malla), and could play it on my phone to hear it, no clerk at any store could understand when I said it, so I had to re-explain it each time. Jiab, for her part, kept insisting she remembered one store we visited days ago that had it (I don’t remember it, but she’s usually right). Then, in the midst of my flailing my arms trying to pantomime “netting” once again, my elbow caught Jiab on the chin and gave her a whack.
We were, as a local friend put it, cabreado: tired, fed-up, ill, and just plain pissy.
We rode the bus back to the apartment in silent defeat, the distant thunder seeming to vocalize our spirits. We stopped at a local place for lunch around 1:00, only to be told they did not start serving lunch (early bird) till 1:30! We went home tired, unfed, and unfulfilled.
Fortunately, Spain has a wonderful cure for such days, and it really hearkens back to what every parent learned was the best solution with cranky toddlers: siesta.
Most everybody in Spain stops and takes an afternoon break. Americans can show stats how much more productive we are, our higher GDP, even our higher incomes and the more stuff we have in our homes. The Spanish response is simple, Buena suerte con eso, Good luck with that.
We napped, refreshed, and Jiab suggested we start the day again. La malla? Mañana!
The measure of a good place is not that it is irritation-free, but that there is a path by which to move away from the irritation. The same is true for a good marriage.