Last week I had a bad cold and stayed in bed for a few days.
Then on Saturday night I couldn’t resist going to Barcelona as planned, to see my friend Cristina and to watch the show Fira at the Ateneu de Nou Barris.
I wrapped up warm and we went in the car. It was my first trip out since getting sick.
The show was good. Not brilliant but fine. I have seen more circus performances and clowns and acrobats since I have lived here than ever before in my whole life put together. One of the women acrobats was quite amazing – her balance was perfect and her centre so strong she seemed to fly through the air, defying gravity. I allowed myself a very brief fantasy that I could have done this if I had kept up with gymnastics and ballet when I was young. The theatre was hot and I was sweaty and thirsty so when the performance finished so we stayed on for drinks in the large bar There were lots of people. It was great to be back in Barcelona surrounded by a bit of night life. The Ateneu of Nou Barris is quite a trendy place and we even saw David Fernandez, the member for Parliament for CUP (Candidatura d’Unitat Popular) a left wing independent party.
There were two DJs playing music and when they started putting on tracks from the 1960’s I suddenly had a huge burst of energy and started not only dancing but singing the songs. It is amazing how one day you can be too ill to go downstairs to make a cup of tea and then 24 hours later a blast of energy from ‘who knows where’ courses through your body, almost lifting you off the ground with its power.
That in itself is amazing but for me what was wonderful was that I seemed to have sweated out or expelled along with the virus, my usual shyness and self consciousness.
I felt fine and I danced and sang without feeling silly at all. Something has shifted. A good feeling.
So with this new healthier energy what am I doing?
The house has been decorated for Christmas. This is the first time I have done this here and it has made a big difference to how I feel at home. I love the lights of the Christmas tree and race downstairs every morning to switch them on. We needed light and here it is!
I have booked a Spanish lesson on the website Italki for Thursday afternoon. I want to improve my Spanish as well as Catalan so this is my first step in doing this.
And lastly a little story of supermarkets in Catalunya.
I went to Lidls today in search of mince pies (there were none) and faced my usual frustration at the cash desk. It is not the custom here to help you pack your bags or even to wait until you have done it. All my shopping was piling up quickly, waiting to be packed but the cashier wanted me to pay straight away. I know what would happen next – she would serve the other people in the queue and I would end up flustered and stressed trying to grab my things while they were trying to do the same.
So I said “No. I need to pack first then pay”
She said ” No. First you pay and then you can pack”
We were both smiling and it was friendly but we both spoke firmly.
I said “No. First we can pack my bags – it will be quicker if you help me – and then I will pay”
And then she just started to pack my bags. There was no problem. No stress of an argument. She wasn’t in a bad mood with me or even irritated. I wondered at my own determination but also noticed that I had spoken firmly but without judgement or annoyance. She could have said no and I would have left it there.
She thanked me at the end and I thanked her.
That is just one tiny fragment of my day but it seems that recently this sort of thing is happening more and more. I think perhaps I am speaking out more freely, and saying more honestly what I think and feel. I always wanted to do that but until now it took an enormous effort to get past the old blocks. That’s why I say, something has shifted and I think it might just be that some of those blocks have been moved out of the way. When I don’t have to push past blocks I can say things so much more kindly and gently.
And if I have finally learned how to do that – then maybe there is hope for us all!