Monday: a light workload
Tuesday: a day to relax
Wednesday: salsa dancing, sharing space
Thursday: scattered storms across the sky, like smudged pastels or dripping watercolors
Friday: a moped ride at dusk through my sleepy town for ice cream
Saturday: spending two and a half hours looking for this supermoon, and not seeing it, but consciously seeing the day pass into night
Sunday: freshly squeezed orange juice
- — -
It’s peculiar the way one gets locked into routine, as if life really were one big clock: swinging pendulums, calmly advancing gears and hands, trips in reliable circles. It doesn’t seem dull to me, but steady like the seasons, the tide or the Earth’s rotation.
I’ve said it before, I live in paradise. Zarautz is where people go for holiday to hold hands and ice cream cones; it’s where surfers live on only the essentials and in vans along the coast or in RVs atop the mountain; it’s where cool couples settle to raise families in bliss and where I live by gracious chance.
But no matter the brilliant location, time will form habits and sunsets will eventually express just another day’s end. I’ve spent most these seven months enwrapped in everyday activities: working, eating, cleaning, socializing, sleeping and repeating. I’m conscious these are truly the best days but overall they capture an intrinsic normalcy rather than some spiritual nirvana.
It just happens. Museums go unvisited, neighboring pueblos remain unknown and the ridged landscape is yet to be seen from its peaks. Sometimes I’m shocked at what my roommates haven’t seen in their much-adored region until I realize I’ve made no effort to experience them myself. We are creatures of habit: wound-up clocks. It doesn’t seem disappointing to me, but organic.
I don’t spend my days basking in greatness – job security and the weather don’t allow such splendor – but I recognize my good fortune with little jolts of sporadic felicity. They’re like internal power surges that run through me and rarely last seconds, but cause me to see the goodness in daily activities. I’ll be waiting for the train and as the cars whoosh past I’ll get really excited about where I’m going, or I’ll be pouring sugar in my coffee and notice how at ease I am in this moment. It’s just a brief sensation, but it’s like slowing the wheels’ rotations. Last Tuesday was like throwing a wrench in the cog.
It was International Workers’ Day for some 80-plus countries around the world so we got the day off. Waterlogged and restless from the rainy season, the cuadrilla and I considered trips to ancient caves, churches on cliffs and painted forests. In the end we spent most the day on the terrace like always, chitchatting and losing track. Around 4pm we set off for Hendaye, the first town across the French border but still within the Basque speaking region of Pyrénées-Atlantiques. Hendaye isn’t known for much except the place where Franco and Hitler once met, and its pretty beach.
We planned to visit the castle but it was locked, so we followed road signs for another château until they disappeared and we wound up near a ropes course called Eco-Park. We stopped there and sprawled in a patch of prickly grass with unspectacular views that magically turned spectacular with the sun’s presence. We bathed in the light until the clouds ate the sun, then went to Hendaye’s main drag for tortilla sandwiches. We marveled at the subtle differences across borders, like the napkins’ thickness, the water served in carafes instead of plastic bottles and the texture of the bread. Two hours after our arrival, we headed home.
If it weren’t for Jone reiterating the greatness of our excursion, I may have overlooked it, but she was caught in a prolonged jolt. Look at how beautiful the beach is, she’d say, and Oh, how I .love. this bread with oil and salt. Isn’t it fantastic to live where we do? To be with each other? To be free?
It’s Sunday night and my clock is back on track, but yes, Jone: to all of the above.