01 December 2015

She holds a smile

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The sun did not come up on Saturday before I had to leave; the man at the hostel opened the iron gates for me and I left into a morning that was still night. At the park where I had been running, I turned up towards the sea and the building I was supposed to stand in front of I assumed, where the minibus would pick me up. It was still very early and the wind was blowing: a British kid with red trainers and skinny jeans was walking in front of me on an iPhone. I stopped and stood where I thought I needed to: if the minibus didn't come, I would get a cab. But like it had been planned, a woman appeared suddenly from the dark across the street, pulling a suitcase and speaking Spanish at me: I said I didn't understand. She smiled and was suddenly Welsh: was this where the minibus was supposed to come. Yes, I thought so, I didn't know.

We stood and chatted and then she went up to the wall to light a cigarette and tell me about her uncle who had died in bed, almost in his sleep and the funeral she was going back for. I wanted to ask for a cigarette.

The flight left from an airport built on corruption in the middle of the desert: it looked like the Southwest. The airport had been built and left empty. The Welsh woman with the dead uncle told me that until Ryanair had decided to fly in and out of it twice a week it had just been sat there. I was annoyed with everyone — all I wanted was some coffee. I heard: Se habla español? and was angry with the woman: no, of course not, look at me. There was a vending machine that didn't work, and no coffee: I sat at the end of a bench on the plastic and thought about nothing in particular, how I had lost control of my eating again, and was bloated.

As I've been away the last month, both in body and spirit, the kids have grown up. Naomi is not a little girl anymore: she feels responsibility and can cook sometimes. Mei lets me brush her hair and then has her mother fix it after I turn away. Mia can chat about anything in English, about sweeties and the birthday parties she's been invited too. At one party on Sunday, I stood outside a disco room while the earnest 4 and 5 year-olds danced with a woman in a giant cat costume. A German man, one of the kid's father, stood out with me, looking in and said, 'It's very surreal.' Mia was dancing by bending her legs and watching the cat carefully. She didn't look happy, but afterwards, telling her sisters about it, she was proud and smiling broadly. 

The girls put on warm clothes in the morning to walk to school with Yoko although I haven't been there for a week now. I am looking for work, but I don't need to say anything about that. I'll say something when I leave: until then, this year of failure and heated up chick peas in pasta sauce can continue on. I wake up, go to sleep, wake up again. A surprise cigarette with a friend, waiting for a bus. Another bus or train taking me somewhere.
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