Thursday, January 18, 2007

Exile Countdown: Two Weeks

Being back in Connellsville for this extended period of time (all told, about six weeks) has made me feel—perhaps understandably—out of whack. I vaguely remember having an adult life away from here; was it in Barcelona? I vaguely remember having a non-long-distance relationship; I have flashes of frequent travels and lots of mad dashes through airports in other countries, yet I don’t think I’ve put shoes on for the past three days. Like that commercial for the Visa check card where one clueless guy jams up an efficient, fast-moving system by paying for his deli meal in cash—shocked customers colliding into one another behind him, the checkout line having come to a sudden, violent stop—so too has my “aggressively European” life (to loosely quote one friend who made a visit) come to a screeching halt.

That’s not to say this extended stay has lacked entirely for nice diversions. There were pleasant jaunts to Fairport and Jacksonville. There was a weekend in NYC, with excellent Broadway shows and Christmassy city-walking (and even a foray onto a Broadway stage—of High Fidelity—thanks to a family friend who originated a role in the sadly short-lived show). There was a trip to Pittsburgh to see the wonderful Matthew Bourne-choreographed dance-theatre performance of Edward Scissorhands, which will be in Brooklyn for three weeks in February. And there was a lovely tour of Fallingwater when Andrew came to visit southwestern PA, and a stroll through its fabulous shop, with its comfortingly high-priced gifts.

Things do, however, lose their perspective when my only outlet to the outside world, most days, is my gmail account. And it’s been easy to get engrossed in the not-quite-Wisteria-Lane-caliber drama that goes on in the quiet Connellsville streets. For example, a man whipped out a gun and fired around the feet of a neighbor who’d been chopping firewood because, according to the gunman, the sound was driving him crazy. This same man attacked a friend’s front door with a can of WD-40—firing so copiously that you can still see streaks on the glass—because the squeaking, like the wood, was driving him crazy. A woman in a neighborhing county was attacked by a rabid fox; when the fox got into a neighbor’s house, the neighbor’s two dogs killed it in the kitchen—but the neighbor was expecting company, so she shoveled up the mauled fox and hid it until she was able to call the authorities later on. We even have mysterious (though altruistic) strangers: Two men, apparently from New York, who are trying to rustle up community support for new arts projects—so far they've opened a B&B from the gigantic mansion on the main street in town, as well as an art gallery. Why they’ve landed in Connellsville remains a mystery, at least to me. But as my mother pointed out, speculating on this at all is just a symptom of my overactive imagination.

And so I’m left to imagine the life going on in Barcelona without me. Andrew called me very late a week or so ago as he walked home from being out with friends; we said goodbye when he reached our building. The next day he told me that after he hung up, he discovered he’d forgotten his keys. After a night spent at a friend’s, he had to buzz our neighbor and climb over our terrace-dividing wall just as I had done several months before. He said friends have been asking where I am, and that he’s been telling them cryptically, “She’s decided to spend some time in New York,” just to get the rumors going. He’s kidding when he tells me this, of course, and he takes great mirth in my cries of protest, knowing, as I do, that I haven’t decided to be away from Spain at all.

I just asked Unazukin if I'll be happy to go back to Barcelona. She nodded. She nodded again when I asked if she was ready to go as well--her first trip to Spain. I'm glad that's settled.

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