Yesterday, Daylight Savings Time commenced in Spain, which means we’re back to being six hours ahead of the East Coast, rather than the five hours we spent apart for a few weeks. Strangely, this mostly-symbolic loss of time made me feel more distanced from the States than ever. I’d gotten used to the ritual of talking on the phone early enough in the day that I could get away with drinking coffee. Seeing the news unroll in the US in the first half of the day seemed much better than seeing it unroll in the latter. An hour! I never dreamed an hour could make so much difference between near and far. Near, I only leave the apartment to walk quickly to the supermercado around the corner, keeping my distance from anyone walking towards me. Plastic gloves litter the sidewalk like dead leaves — hojarascas, as they’re called here. Far, I depend on phone calls and the news to try to decipher what’s going on over there. It looks like spring has come.
Along with the time change, yesterday Madrid was blessed with balmy weather, the kind that just a month ago would have had us crowding the sidewalk cafes and strolling the parks, en masse. The Spanish are happiest together. Maybe, when the chips are down, all human beings, no matter how introverted, are happiest together.
Yesterday, lacking the ability to take to the parks, we put our balconies and terraces to good use. Someone around the corner was playing The Beatles. Someone else, even farther away, was playing the soundtrack from The Lion King. The little boy who lives two apartments beneath us stood at his window, shouting. Across the street, Lonely Smoking Guy sat back in a chair, his face tilted to the sun, his eyes closed. I realized that further down our side of the street in an apartment at our level, lives Smoking Woman. I never saw her before. Maybe she didn’t come out until now, maybe she just became Smoking Woman, because of the tedium. Below lives Woman Who Leans Her Arms on Dirty Tile Windowsill.
Last night, The Nightly Clap took place before dusk rather than in the dark, which enlarged our peripheries a hundred-fold. For the first time we could see just how many people stood at their windows way off down the street and far away, over the roof tops.
Today, though, commenced cloudy, and colder, and palpably quiet. There’s a 50 percent chance of snow. It won’t stick, of course it won’t, but how much stranger can this get?