Today I was sitting around thinking about my good friend in Madrid, let’s call her Lana (not her real name). For years, when I lived in Madrid, we were inseparable.
Lana and I are still in touch. But it’s not the same anymore.
When I lived in Madrid and she was single, she was a real rebel. Heavy metallist, rebellious, anti-conventionality. It’s ironic that now she follows all the conventions and all the things that people expect of her.
We met in the choir. Both of us sang in a choir. We hit it off right away and soon became fast friends.
We were both wild and rebellious, both of us a lot in character like George of the Famous Five, except we had – and still continue to proudly sport – long hair. The difference between us is that whereas I’m quite shy and diffident around people, especially people I don’t know well, Lana is very talkative.
I thought about all the things we’d done together, so many fun experiences we’d shared. Going home one night after a night out clubbing, at 3 in the morning, we decided to start howling like a bunch of cats in heat, waking up the neighbours.
Going to visit an apiary, that is, a bee farm, with a friend of hers. On a hiking trip to observe vultures. Like me, at that time she was very much into hiking, and we often went on hikes together.
Climbing into a water ride at the amusement park one hot summer day, two mischievous little urchins in the same boat with us thought it would be fun to throw water at us. We threw water back, and soon it was all we were doing the whole ride long. We went on that ride I think it was about eleven times with those same two mischievous urchins and had a blast.
Another time we went to a field that was off limits. One of those private properties where trespassing is forbidden. There was a very high fence around it to prevent people from jumping in. We wanted to play in that field. Not because we especially wanted to play in a field – although we did, and it was a very large field – but mainly because it WAS forbidden. On that occasion we went with our friend, the boy I would one day marry haha.
We were absolutely DETERMINED to get into that field come hell or high water. My boyfriend gave us a boost up onto the top of the wire fence. We reached down and pulled him up. So far, excellent.
The problem came when we went to jump down. The shirt I was wearing got snagged on the fence, ripping off half the hem when I jumped down. Unphased, we continued into the field and carried on playing. I don’t remember what we were playing now. Some kind of ball game, maybe?
When we tired of playing and it was time to climb out, this time it was Lana who got snagged on the sharp, poking-out wires of the fence. In her case, it was her jeans. The wire poked a hole in her jeans. However, jeans are sturdier than shirts, and neither was she able to rip herself off the fence, nor could she disengage herself or unhook her jeans from the wire.
She couldn’t simply jump or pull herself down, because then the wire would have gouged into her skin. In the end, we don’t know what she did, but she had to extricate herself from the wire all by herself because we couldn’t get back up again.
I remember one hiking trip in particular. We planned to go with a good friend of hers, Elena. In those days Lana had the bad habit of always arriving very, very late. This was in those times before mobile phones.
Anyways, we were going to meet up at Chamartin train station. Elena arrived, and we started spinning about the station in search of Lana. Aware of her tendency to arrive late, we didn’t give up when she still hadn’t shown her face after we’d been combing the station for a long time.
At last, we both saw her get off the escalators looking like a scarecrow, with wild eyes and swivelling her head in all directions. It was so late, she was convinced that Elena and I for sure must have taken off without her. Of course, being loyal friends, we hadn’t. We grabbed a train to some mountains north of Madrid, whose name I’ve now forgotten. But they are well-known and people often go hiking there. Gredos, I think.
There were a lot of people on the same trail we were on. We walked to the end of the trail, where lots of people had set things up and were playing, eating and just generally having a good time. I believe there was a lake there as well. All of a sudden it started to rain – one of those unexpected, unpredictable mountain storms. All the people started taking off down the trail.
It was quite a long trail. We were perhaps halfway down the trail, when Lana suddenly realized that she had forgotten something in the clearing where we had been playing. We had to trek all the way back, in the rain, to retrieve the lost object. This time when we turned around to go back, the mountain was completely deserted.
After what seemed a veritable odyssey, we finally straggled back into town. We were starving. We had packed a picnic and we wanted to eat. But of course, there was no way we could have a picnic in the rain. We didn’t know where to go.
At that point, we noticed a building that was in construction. It was halfway built. It had floors and stairways, sustaining columns. And most importantly, it had a roof!! That was all that mattered to us! Within seconds, we were rushing up the stairs to the second floor (for greater privacy haha). We plunked down onto the floor, relieved to finally find shelter from the cold rain after what must have been hours, and enjoyed our picnic with numb, blue fingers. It was just a silly thing, perhaps, but I remember we didn’t stop joking and laughing all the way.
With Lana I travelled to Granada, Cuenca, the Alpujarra, Morocco. We had a blast in Morocco. At that time, her family lived in the compound of the Spanish consulate in Tangiers, and I spent several days there. We also took the train to Larache.
We wanted to go to the beach in Larache. But unlike in Europe, it’s impossible to go to the beach in Morocco and even less so if you are two young girls. In Morocco, just the fact that you have long hair and wear a skirt, and especially if you are unaccompanied by adult males (although the presence of adult males is hardly a deterrent), is enough to draw in all the Moroccan men as if you were, well, some sort of rare prize or something.
So we had to defer on our beach plans. But even so, we had a great time together in Morocco. I remember going to the souk with Lana’s mother, and eating pistachio ice-cream. Mmmhh.
Today Lana is married, with two kids, like me (except I’m not married, of course!), and we live our separate lives in cities more than 500 km apart. We still chat via WhatsApp. She’s no longer a rebel, commutes two hours a day to get to work, gives her kids communions and attends all her and her hubby’s family events: baptisms, weddings, engagement parties……
She no longer goes out hiking or for walks in the country. They very rarely even go on holiday. She never travels, except to the family home on the beach.
I wish she lived here in Malaga, near me.
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