The backstage area is messy with stacks of chairs, paper bags filled with props, and costumes in piles ready for the quick changes of the final concert of the school year. Tomorrow is the last day of school but today we celebrate with music, dancing, and a showcase of the young athletes of my primary school. I have two performances to get through and of course, I didn’t get the memo to convert and upload my music to the school’s shared server. Until the bitter end, I remain the last person to know.
The kids are buzzing with joy and excitement. The older ones are more serious and stressed out about missing a step or hitting a sour note. I relate to the anxious children: precocious darlings eager to please and perform perfectly for the entire school and their families sitting in the audience of the small theater in Los Mallos. I help out backstage and watch from the wings. The kids are great! Even Raul and Dominion, the hellions of the four-year-old class, were charming in an ADHD way. My groups do fine and I even danced with them (I’m a blur in the flurry of photographs uploaded to the school’s Facebook page). At the end of the day, I was so glad it was over and I wonder how these teachers do this every year.
My last week was spent with my friend from London. We hit all the high notes and ate good food. I dragged that poor guy all over A Coruña and he helped me deal with a rat in my kitchen. My emotions were all over the place and no matter of wine and fried baby squid could mend my aching heart. I’m going to miss my kids and my life. But I have to go home.
Mere days after my friend left, I cleaned up, donated the majority of my clothes, and left my Spanish flat for Boston.
My dad forgot I was coming home – he was startled to see me sleeping on the couch – even though I called him before I left. My dad’s memory, or rather the lack thereof, is the main reason I’m back in Florida. His diabetes had grown wild and out-of-control to the detriment of two motor vehicles. He is loopy, unable to focus, and confused easily. He has hours of clarity but it only takes skipping a snack to bring it all down. He now displays a raging tremor and disturbing slack glare when he goes into a hypoglycemic episode. I call them episodes, because it comes on fast and once remedied with orange juice and a snack, they disappear just as quick. He has no memory of these small attacks. But I’m scarred for life and filled with equal parts disappointment and sadness.
I’ve called 911 twice this summer. Each time five hefty men fill my dad’s modest bedroom. I’m tasked with giving them a rundown of his medication, details of the episodes, and his past medical history. The first time I was able to keep it together and played my role with pith and ease. The second time I lost my shit. I couldn’t stop crying. He looked like he was having a seizure as the tremors violently thrashed his body. Ramping up to the second call, he had small episodes everyday that week, and I kept it managed. I was failing in keep my dad from low-blood sugar, even though it’s ultimately his responsibility, I’m the bad babysitter who doesn’t feed him enough and makes him exercise too much.
I’ve returned just in time for unbearable heat and daily afternoon deluge that manages to create an unparalleled layer of humidity to the already stagnant air. Summertime in the Sunshine State in the sunniest city in the country and I have a bit of a sunburn. After a year away, I’m eager to see my cat, family, and friends. I’ve missed everyone so much. I’ve missed my closet and all the different outfits hanging neatly in the closet. Nothing in Spain could replace what I have in St Pete, be ever so humble a city, it is full of my favorite things including my heeled ankle boots (it’s been too long), my favorite taco joint, and the only IPA I like (sorry Estrella Galicia). It was a great experience, but my soul is aching for community, that I never had in A Coruña.
For all the internal changes that have transpired I’m right back to where I started a few years ago. The difference is that I’ve traveled and lived and been so thoroughly humbled that emotionally I am light years away from the person I was. The empty passport girl is long in the past. The family I was missing I barely see, besides my ill father, and I’m hoping that changes soon. I don’t know when I’ll leave and where I’ll end up. I’ve applied locally, nationally, and internationally since I returned home. I’ve received 12 rejections. Breaking into academia is a tough gig and it might fling me to the opposite side of the globe come January. But I’m still hoping I can find something that allows me to stay in The States.
It took me a few months to get back into writing. I’ve been putting it off. There are several silly stories to tell and experiences worthy to retell, and perhaps, I’ve yet to process all those little traumas. Essentially, I’m ready to put this series to an end. My Spanish life is over and so is Spanish Stories. It’s just a small part in a lifetime and if you want to know more I’ll gladly meet you for a beer and chat.