29 July 2011

The Most Unlikely Loveliest Day

I didn't want to be anywhere that wasn't my bed this morning, which is the exact same way I feel every weekday morning at 7:40am before I hit the snooze button for the third and (perhaps) final time. In almost every way, language school ended on Wednesday at the very moment we all handed in our exams. Less than half the class came to see their marks and participate in Thursday's discussion, and the ones that did were still leaving halfway through the hour.

We had been told that Friday's class would consist of watching a film--and with the way my classmates voted so fervently against Los Otros (or The Others, that phantasmic Nicole Kidman show), I figured at least a few of them would show up. And I, suffering from a chronic inability to miss class at any point during my scholastic career, could certainly not miss the final day! So I pulled myself out of bed and forced on some clothing, dragged myself to the 8:05 bus, arriving on campus in a rather bedraggled state at 8:35.

No one was there, but no one usually is at that time. I sat in a chair in the empty hall, feeling very conspicuous. I bought some cookies from the vending machine and took them outside to be eaten in the plaza; that way, I could watch students approaching from several directions and make my second entrance at a more appropriate time.

8:45. No students.

8:50. No students and no cookies.

8:55. No students, no cookies, and one shopkeeper looking off into space but potentially also at me out of the corner of his oh-so-tricky eye.

8:57. No students. Not even one. I think the shop guy is suspicious of me.

8:58. No one. Dang it.

8:59. I walk slowly back to the school, noticing through the massive windows that my friend Wendy somehow slipped inside without alerting me and is reading a book.

9:02. "So, Wendy, do you think we're having class today? Did we miss a memo somewhere about class starting late or something?"
"I don't think so. But can we really be the only ones here?"

9:03. Yes. It seems we can.

Over 80 students, and there were only two of us in the hallway. Two! I had assumed that a large percent of the student population would be nursing hangovers from the big end-of-the-course bash, but seriously. Two?

A few more minutes went by, and then we saw another human: Javi, one of our professors. I felt a little foolish at this point, because what if we really had missed some important message about class starting late and now were just sitting around like worried schoolgirls? We went upstairs and sat outside the classroom for ten more minutes. 9:15. Man. None of the shops are even open yet. I should have brought a book. What will I do for four hours? I should have skipped class; I should have been a normal person who doesn't show up on the last day of a class when they know it's pelicula day, and I should have stayed in my bed with a fan blowing on my face, or at least I should have waited an hour--oh, there's Javi!

He unlocked the classroom door, seeming quite unaffected that the entire student body was absent. "¿Quierais ver la pelicula?"
"Well," I shrugged to Wendy, "what else are we going to do?"

So we watched a movie. Just Wendy, Javi, and I up in good old Aula 6 with El Próximo Oriente on the screen, Javi laughing intermittently though I'm sure he's seen this movie at least five million times already.

And...I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Like, really, really enjoyed it. As in, I was touched and found myself tearing up a few times (although I'm not sure I'd be quite as emotional over Lavapies if I had been well-rested. Oh, heck, I probably would!). I didn't let any tears escape, though, because seriously, what would Javi do if he looked over and saw one of his two surviving students weeping to herself on the last day of class during a comedy?

(This story is getting long, so here's where you can break for intermission. And following is a handy trailer to help you intermiss!)

Okay, so I could have slept in and missed a beautiful film.

But now that was over, and surely we wouldn't be having two hours of class between now and graduation? Javi let us go, so we wandered Calle Mayor a bit before returning to our second-story haunt. In traditional Alcalingua fashion, our profesora appeared ten minutes after class should have started. "Chicas ¿que quierais hacer?" ("What would you like to do, girls?") I didn't know there were options! I shrugged. Wendy shrugged. She asked again, and we shrugged some more, and then she suggested coffee.

So there we sat, inside a little coffeehouse with aqua walls and lanterns, drinking coffee and talking to the profesora whom I'd described just last week as a roller coaster: pleasant one week, irritable and frustrated the next. We talked, in faltering Spanish, about how this happens at the end of every course: everyone stays out late for fiesta and skips the last day of class, and most of the young students just party and party while they're studying abroad. And then we talked about German and babies and our prolonged stays in this country and how parents ruin their children by giving them everything they want, and by the end of an hour and a half, I felt strangely endeared to this woman, the teacher whose classes I've spent a month sighing over and slightly dreading.

Okay, so I could have slept in and missed an unexpected heart-to-heart, too. I'm not sure if it was exactly heart-to-heart since we surely misinterpreted a little, but it was at least heart-to-cerebellum. Heart-to-trachea? These all seem so creepy.

By 1:00, students had tesseracted into the hallways in cute little dresses and all manner of graduation attire, and at 1:20, Caitlin, Lisa, and I were snaking across the calles of Alcala in this informal procession. ("Snaking" sounds creepy, and this was far from creepy. But I like the word "snaking.") So we snaked into this lovely building with the Spanish coat of arms on a huge tapestry hung on the back wall, we snaked and we clapped for our fellow students and snapped dozens of pictures and got diplomas that signify less about our Spanish knowledge than about our fortitude in making it through 80 hours of class on very little sleep and many, many OhLaLa coffees. Snake snake snake. It was a great time.

And then, once I got home and realized that language school was really over, that I really wouldn't have to wake up for the early bus anymore, nor be tempted by all of the dazzling Don Quixote kitsch along Calle Mayor, I also realized that one of my icecream containers had opened inside my shopping bag and had left a trail all along the bottom. (It seems I am in a competition with myself to write the world's longest sentences. Just call me Nathaniel Hawthorne!) And then I accidentally poured raw macaroni all over the kitchen floor.

But the evening was perfect, ending in a spaghetti-and-fried-egg supper with Caitlin (Camarma Burger has taught me the value of putting a fried egg on top of everything!) and sorbet magic on the front patio with the Smalleys. I can sleep in tomorrow, and I have a diploma, and I roughly get the subjunctive tense. Oh, plus, this was the first time in my life that I kissed someone while getting a diploma, rather than shaking their hand.

I'm so glad I didn't skip this.


The Smalley Family said...

Que bien! A big hurdle you've overcome, and now all things ECA waiting in the not so distant future (something subjunctive about this comment;) )!

Nick, Amber & Aaron said...

Congrats on all your hard work Shar!! :) Miss you :)