Planting Seeds

9 June 2011

Alicante, España

There is no morning when you can’t remember how you got into bed.

There is a terrific afternoon, because this is a beach. The first day on the Mediterranean this year explodes onto the scene in dramatic fashion. Same country, different coast, and it couldn’t be more different. Yes, there are lots of tanned bodies wearing much cleaner cut, tighter swimmers, posing. Nobody is really swimming, but everybody is really tanning. Cigarettes aren’t hard to find in the fine white sand which disappears into grey sand in the salty, warm water.

I walked here with Irish Claire and Rebecca from last night and, supposedly, a Finn.

We all do as Spaniards do and wade around in the warm water. The bright turquoise makes you forget the feeling of that you’re almost bathing with countless strangers.

The weakest thing around is the sun and I’ve been lying here for hours now without feeling any sort of burn. Well, I haven’t; poor celts Claire and Rebecca are slopping on sunscreen and complaining. ‘Why?! I’ve got no more sides to flip over to!’ Just thirty minutes later she makes the near-fatal mistake of falling asleep. She looks so peaceful, and the other doesn’t advise waking her up. Advice taken.

The Finn finally comes back after over an hour long time for a supposed toilet stop, now with a plastic bag that contains a carton of some sort of juice. She invites me to get something cheap to eat.

We find a place that sells ham and cheese toasted sandwiches. She wouldn’t settle for anything else. ‘Have a look at this, it’s me before I left to Norway.’ I look at a photo of an attractive young woman, waving her hand from a slim arm at the camera. The other hand holds a cigarette up in the air beside long blonde hair. I look up from the photo and smile at the same person who couldn’t look more different now than then. She jokes about how fat she is now, but it’s not just that. Now with black hair tied back, and heavy eyes, it’s the weariness that strikes me from the liveliness of years before.

Both ham and cheese sandwiches arrive at our table. The Finn glances at hers, open it up, and slides it over to me with a grin. 'I don’t like it when it isn’t melted. I need to exercise, too.’ She reveals that she really does have to exercise, because she kick-boxes every weekend. Illegally. Illegally? 'It’s underground, so we fight in bikinis and everyone bets on us. I win one thousand euros if I win. Is it bad that I do this? … I should be ok. Do you think I will be ok? I have done a lot of training.’

I change the subject because I think she’s being freaked out. Apart from kickboxing and earning thousands doing American oil company work in Norway, she also is a supposed architect. She’s designed two buildings that have been constructed already and has an idea for a church that'will be like nothing you have seen … so many windows, and many colours.’

Stopped for ice-cream, I go to the bathroom, and come back to a table and floor covered in this grape juice stuff that she’s been sipping constantly for the past hour. It doesn’t smell like juice, though. 'Oliver, look what I did. I’m so sorry.’ We clean up with napkins and I wonder how long the mess had been left here.

On the way back from the beach, my Finnish friend, like the past two hours, asks whether it’s ok that she kick-boxes. She tosses the empty carton into the bin while we stand waiting for cars to pass. 'I’m sorry…’ she says and sighs, and grabs my arm. 'I’m quite drunk.’ She’s holding onto me and I’m surprised I didn’t put it al together before. The'juice’ was sangria, Spain’s cheap solution to cheap wine.

We make it back to the hostel after some wobbles and embarrassed, almost upsetting remarks, sometimes sobbing, sometimes looking at the ground like a guilty pet. I reassure her that I’ll go and watch her kickboxing.

It’s all'mañana, mañana’, even though I did my bit and chopped up some vegetables and even helped stir. We’re all making paella, a rice dish meaning'for her’, atop the picturesque terrace of the hostel overlooking the long streets. I meet more people, the most interesting being an American soldier, undeniably in Spain: on a terrace.

The paella is way too good and way too small for over three hours wait.

With the feeling of a wasted evening in mind, Australian Daniel and I head downstairs independently. He starts juggling a ball and accidentally kicks it towards me. I stop it, and pass it back. What follows would be an interesting psychology study because we pass the ball back and forth in every way imaginable and joking around by 'accidentally’ throwing it at people until two in the morning. We would have said less than ten sentences to each other. In a very backward way, when the ball is taken off us, we get each others’ name and go to bed.

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