Friday, May 21, 2010

Pais de Maravillosas

Shattered...positively. I haven't slept on a comfortable bed - save a few isolated incidents when I slept in hostels, hotels, or when I was snowed-in at my co-worker's parent's house- for a year. Constantly waking up at night wondering what it'll take to get comfortable.
Last Friday was full and surprising. Barcelona, as it becomes its sunshiney best, all the people open more..After work hours took a turn from doing a somewhat regular Flamenco night at Jazz SI, since no one wanted to join me in seeing Nacho Libre...the mini stamp master at the hidden wooden exploring Gracia, the Berkeley-esque mini-hood adjacent to my quiet well-ordered somewhat geriatric neighborhood. Gracia is full of colorful plazas, original clothing stores, panaderias (bakeries, of course), orange trees, hat shops, jewelery shops, vegetarian fare, wine is an open alternative to the snaking streets of the Raval, and minus the urine stench as well..So, a store I regularly haunt and because of its 1940s style covet-ables - lil' feather head bands, mini hats, sailor dresses with creatively placed pockets- that is a touch overpriced was having a promotional party - 20 % off and cava = drunken shopping. Yes, I knew about it and plotted my route home by it..Went in, and after a warm welcome by the busty bleach blonde with the red lips, beauty mark, and black stillettos..I began sipping my first strawberry tailored cava and the prices looked increasingly better. By my 2nd cava I had pulled out a strapless floral printed mini dress...stepped in front of 15 women at a big mirror...GUAPA! Oh yes, you must get that, with those booots or fits you so well, tia! Let me hold it for you..I couldn't say no, my beauty, in their eyes, demanded that I wear and keep and treasure the dress..I lingered in the store, drank more, bought more.. a gray open bust cat - suit (also perfect with heels or boots)..Soon I was at the shop afterhours with the designers and their friends finishing the cava then over to a local bar up the street, where the girls scarfed olives, nuts and beer delivered uncharacteristically quick by the attentive barmen who were clearly accustomed to the local ladies and they noticed my extranjera's affection for Spanish red wine (all the Americans go for the red wine). IT's Delicious. Claro, Tia, claro! They insisted I practice my Spanish with them, though they all knew English to a certain degree.. Worked in dress shops...were intrigued by my story...more often than not questions like what are you doing here? Why barcelona? Why did you leave San Francisco? I hear it is perfect! ...It is...I have my somewhat scripted response about my need to see explore Spain, my ultimate desire to move to NYC once theater adventures and travel run their course in europe....most of the night i sit, mouth agog, handling conversation at an upper-intermediate level when slow questions are directed at me as their tongues drill out gossip about 26 year old lovers.. (Cuentame Carina!)...bad dates...weekend plans...the girls want to go out to karaoke with me.... sing at the cutre (tacky) Amoldobar... i came into the night alone and left with 2 hot outfits and four new Catalan girlfriends ....
I've seen the metro system here as kind of a racket...all the stops are usually a handful of blocks away...several handfuls and you've crossed the city in a bit over an the weather's summery I'd rather walk in the sun through lilac trees than spend the Euro 40 to walk underground and save MAYBE 5 minutes. These above ground walks, mainly from the Clot (terrifying metro name) Station, through a tree sheltered ramblas (sidewalky promenade with shops and things) generally prove to be most rewarding as they include street performance, shopping, and public nudity.
Stupid conejo! Over a week ago I witnessed a 20-something girl with blood splattering her mouth legs and arms..wearing a lil-girl style pinafore dress with a bit of crinalyn peeking from beneath madly punching a stuffed toy rabbit's head and flailing on the boulevard.. At first, I simply forsook her as one of the many mentally unstable folks that typically pepper the metro stations or the more popular Ramblas in the city center. I soon realized she was a performance artist, busking, as she cycled through a structured improvised abstract interpretation of Alice in Wonderland wherein Alice catches up to the rabbit and systematically decapitates him, blaming for the distraction and distress brought to her life by his scampering through it. Soon I'm watching, with about 5 enamored men, as Alice suggestively straddles the rabbit's head, and bemoans her lot...then catapults into an enraged tizzy on the pavement in the early Tuesday afternoon bustle of grandmas slow-stepping to their produce shopping who stop to drop encouraging coins into the light, mad nymph's hat or who try to hand it to the girl while she's mid-flail. If this happens, Alice interrupts herself and shows the ladies her hat before rejoining her bunny-socking rant. Many abuelitas quietly come to ask me if the girl's alright, what she's doing, and whether or not she knows there's a better ramblas for this kind of performance. After sharing my own monetary encouragement with Alice, and realizing that she's resuming her cyclical argument with the dismembered bunny...I move on.
On other days this ramblas is alive with children being picked up afterschool by gossiping smoking parents...there is often one or two small boys, around 5 years old, running around the trees, there pants to their ankles, peeing over the tree trunks or merely holding onto themselves while their mothers and grandmothers talked about family friends and their weekend plans. Today, on my promenade, I met an accordian player from Italy who charmed me with her rendition of a theme from Amelie and told me of her plans to busk through Spain. I walked into a nearby dress shop where Nieve, the squat, bleach-blonde 60-something proprietor with turquoise eyeshadow and Winston cigarettes told me what a great ass I had and how to hold onto my figure..."Just tell yourself, I won't ever be fat, I don't want to be fat. It's a mind game. Don't be like us, the obese ones. We have so many problems. It is good to deal with your body now, and stayed focused on it. Always remind yourself the balance you need to be healthy as you are. I was born in the country and I must go back. Barcelona is too closed, there's no peace here. I may have cancer. " Within 20 minutes she had me giggling as she handled my tetas into a classic navy strapless dress, which I bought with the promise to return for more, and we were kissing goodbye...I might've gone home with her if I were a man.."Eres guapa, Natanya" (You are beautiful, Natanya)

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