This blue marble

– and yet it spins

Past tense

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SS-16The Spanish preterite tense is not my friend. How can poder become puste, and venir vino? Vino, as in wine. Really.

When practicing past tense, talking about biographies is a natural topic. We were asked to write ours in simple sentences. I kept adding to my list of dates and events long after the others were done, and I am still in my thirties. When I read it out to class our teacher’s comment was “your life is like two entirely different halves.” She was right. In one I was a scientist living in Finland, married to a Dutch man. In the other I am a business woman living in Denmark, with a Spanish man. For now.

My young British housemate came home at 1 am last night, again clomping over the floor in her shoes. She closed the door to her room with a bang, and after a moment’s silence there was a huge crash. I thought her suitcase had slipped and fallen onto the floor. In the morning I was happily surprised that she followed me to school – and filled me in on the details of the previous night: it was not the suitcase that had crashed, but she herself.

My beauty sleep was doomed anyway, due to a catfight at 3.30 am (yes, literally, between two whining and spitting cats), and a drunk brawl at 4 am. Indeed, my dreams were visited by two drunk French men who argued about a third person who was not even present. Later I heard they woke up not only me and my landlady, but my Dutch classmate in a house a few hundred meters away. Indeed. This hotly contested third person must have really mattered to them, the way they sorted out their differences in the calles at 4 in the mañana.

(San Sebastián, Spain; August 2019)

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