Is fearr cairde ná ór (Friends are better than gold)
My basil plant has outlived my romance. Threatened by the intense summer heat, Carlo resolves to return to his more temperate Italian climate. The first of many goodbyes; hasta luego, mi amigo.
However, the real love story of my Sevillian adventure has been my chicas.
I will caveat this post with a confession that I have recently read and was moved by Dolly Alderton’s ‘Everything I know About Love’; a celebration of female friendship. And should she deign to establish a cult, I would be first in line with undying loyalty and bank details in paw.
I first meet Tina after posting in a Facebook group about setting up a book exchange. Tina sends me a message; ‘Hey,’ she says, ‘I guess you could say I’m a vegan, feminist, nature-lover’. And I like her straight away.
Ana adopts a more cautious approach; ‘I’m also a vegan,’ she writes, ‘but maybe not everyone wants to talk about veganism’. Although, should you wish to discuss veganism with Ana, she can do so confidently in five languages…
The forth member of our group, Carmen’s presence is felt only in her silence. Perhaps not enamoured by our introductions and political persuasions, Carmen leaves the group (not before voyeuristically procuring two weeks of juicy gossip) and so, ‘GorgGirls’ Whatsapp group is founded.
These chicas are wholesome, endlessly interesting, remarkably intelligent, exceptionally caring and wonderful fun.
My mom’s gravestone is engraved with the Seamus Heaney line ‘In your presence/Time rode easy, anchored/On a smile’. It’s perhaps the most beautiful description that anyone can be gifted and couldn’t capture my mom any more accurately. And I don’t take it lightly, when I say that with my chicas here, time really does ride easy, anchored always on a smile.
Lentil burgers in the park taste all that bit better with Ana and Tina in tow.
And we all have our down days, where, for whatever reason, life doesn’t ride so easy. On these occasions, the GorgGirls are always there to lend their support; be that food, a hug, translation service, a listening ear, pooh cleaning assistance…
And here we encounter my other enduring friendship, Bochum.
It’s late Saturday morning, after an evening of gin and techno, and outside my door is a fresh pile of bloody pooh with a half chewed pen encased in the centre.
‘Dad!’ I cry down the phone (independent woman doing it for herself as always), ‘the dog has left diarrhoea on the floor. My housemate is out. What do I do!?!’
My concerned father directs me through the process. But as I walk closer to the mess, I begin to wretch. As I start to vomit, my Dad tells me to put down the phone.
I sit on my bed shaking.
‘Ana,’ I send into GorgGirls, ‘How do you feel about dog pooh?’.
‘I’m on my way,’ she replies instantly, buíochas mór le Dia.
Angel Ana arrives, she rubs mint balm under her nose and fills her nostrils with tissue. She removes her kimono and gets to work without complaint.
The pooh is gone, Bochum is happily wagging his tail, ignorant to the drama caused, and off we go for vegan lunch with Tina.
Happily fed and calmer, I settle the bill for all three. Primarily as a thanks to Ana but also strategically paying it ahead with Tina. This won’t be my last call for assistance…
Seldom is Spring without cold (Is annamh earrach gan fuacht)
So, I had my first bad day. A fish out of water, unable to understand nor make myself understood as I attempted to make a medical appointment. Somehow, ‘me pones dos cervezas’ did not cut it with the medical staff.
Alas, fast forward 24 hours and Joe, a fleeting but fortuitist friendship, is feeding me watermelon on the roof as we contort ourselves into the most fabulous poses for the Kiki dance as the sun sets to sleep. This lone fish now has a flapping buddy. Hurrah!
Another 24 hours later, my ever kind flat mate has bought me a book. A most welcome gift as a priority for these months is to consume; media, books, art, music, culture, food; to widen my knowledge base and points of reference. On average, I listen to 4 podcasts a day, I read two books a week, I’m learning Spanish, am actively engaged in improving my Irish and I have stopped putting tomatoes in a fruit salad (#wisdom #lol)
Perhaps it’s ironic that the book my housemate has given me is a memoir focused on the North Korean Regime. And funnily enough, I had just finished another book on the same subject that very day. It’s ironic in that, I have never experienced such freedom as I have here. And not only freedom in the sense of free travel and open borders but this move has been, to some extent and without overstating, a liberation. I’m lighter, I’m brighter and my shorts are getting tighter (whoops…how many calories are in a cerveza?).
I’m not beholden to anyone or anything. Upon discovering a male companion’s professional involvement in the escort industry at a photo shoot for a food tour company last week, and with that not aligning with my own moral values, I simply left with an ‘adios amigos’, never to see them again.
Rather I spend my time being nourished by a more wholesome bunch; we do yoga in the park, we cook together, we play cards, exchange idioms, books and belly-hugging smiles. We have a culture of sharing; ‘mi casa es su casa’, ‘mis amigos son sus amigos’, ‘mi tinto es tu tinto’ and not ‘mi naggin es mi naggin’. Carlo, a carnivore, eats nothing that we do not share; cute and romantic…until he orders cold soup.
And when we do cook for one another, it’s to please, not to impress.
Life is fulsome, wholesome and rides that bit more easy. I will set my first alarm of five weeks on Sunday…and that is to wake up for the beach. Today, the electricity is gone, and so what? No pasa nada! I’ll read until it comes back. Maybe I’ll write a poem. Or pluck my eyebrows. The opportunities are endless.
On Tuesday, Speedy Gonzales here ran into a car and landed on its bonnet. And what of it? My elbow and knee are bruised but my stress levels are reduced to such an extent here that my ‘fight or flight’ response was merely a ‘thumbs up and half shrug’. I kept running.
So, my first bad day is over, my basil plant is still alive and Kim Jong Un is due to meet Trump next month. Is there a moral to this story? Qui sait? Ach nach maith an scéalaí an aimsir!
The Polite Irish
The Irish are inherently awkward and embarrassingly polite. Preoccupied with social acceptance, we are willing to risk almost anything in order to avoid ‘being a bit of a nuisance’ – God forbid!
Here is a ditty playing on this theme.
World Brain Day
Yesterday was World Brain Day. A lot of people with brain disorders and brain injury live under an invisible cloak of darkness and pain; their anguish hushed and their experience ignored.
Below is a ditty for those suffering and their allies.
Disorder eating and health myths are so common today that it is hard to know which advice to follow and which to cast aside to the waste bin with the rotting avocado peels.
This illustration takes a light, humour look at this common confusion.
Mama and Dada were busy blowing berries on Bernard’s belly,
And when it came to my turn, I was told to whisht and watch the telly.
And this, it seems, was routine since Baby Bernard had come home
So I snuck out to the garden to blow some berries of my own.
Now it didn’t tickle quite as much as I remembered, or as I wished
But boy did I give quite a laugh as the bunch of berries squished!
And soon the oozing berry juice had spread across my tummy,
And as I blew the deep pink hue, I heard a shriek from Mummy.
As Mam and Dad ran to my side, Dad slowly stopped his weeping,
And now we’re laughing on the grass, blowing berries as Baby Bernard’s sleeping.
This is convergent from Didge’s Ditties often lighter posts, but life is multi-faceted and pain an equal reality to happiness . Conversation may not cure but perhaps it eases symptoms.
Read article attached for my experience with chronic migraine.
Photo: ‘Migraine in the Desert’
Fix the leak
Sometimes people don’t hear or chose not to listen . Sometimes it is hard to remain patient. Sometimes we should not remain patient perhaps.
It can be easy to spot a leak and walk on by; to chose to ignore the leak or pretend it isn’t there. How often leaks are self-correcting? Next time you see a leak, say it! And say it again. Gather a group and say it to them. And tell them to say it. And then together fix that leaking pipe.
Ní neart go cur le chéile!