Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Barcelona Bites and My Attempt at Being Positive

This is not going to be a great summer. I'm just going to say that right now. It's going to suck. This summer is going to suck because of one day in July that I am 100% certain will be one of the worst days of my life. And I can't get out of it. Or control it. Or make is suck any less. Or predict how long it's going to haunt me. I'm really just going to have to deal
with it and try not to let it kill me or taint my sunny fucking disposition.

I also can't talk about it. Yet. I know some of you who read this blog who know me personally already know. You just may not know that it's coming up. So, now you know. It's coming up. You can all start the shipments of pills and booze to my condo anytime now.

But the summer is going to suck for a lot of people. Namely those taking the bar exam. And me. And I guess other people for their own various reasons. So, in order to cheer me up, and maybe others, and make the next 30 days or so less vile, I am going to try and be all happy and upbeat on my blog. I'm going to try and tell stories of good and fun and funny times and times that make me believe in higher powers, and ghosts, and love. It's probably not going to last
too long. Because I hate just way too many things, but I'm going to take a stab at it. I'm gonna stab the shit out of positivity.

Here's my first story:

Many years ago, I was camping outside of Barcelona and I got bit by a poisonous spider. Seriously. I have a nasty ass scar that looks like a small gunshot wound to prove it. I also got really sick. But, I'm one of those "ignore the problem and it will disappear" kind of people. So I kept ignoring the fact that I was feeling really sick, and my arm was swelling like crazy, and I left Barcelona and continued traveling. Until 2 days later when I arrived in Lisbon and I completely
collapsed, and woke up as I was being placed in the back of a 1970's Van/ambulance, and was driven to a low income housing project/hospital.

To be fair to the hospital, I'm sure that they were very competent. I was just a young, dumb, and very scared American traveling alone who had never been seriously sick or injured, let alone in a foreign country where the only word of the language I knew was "thank you", let alone be able to explain to any of the medical staff how to say "I'm allergic to aspirin. Please don't give it to me."

So, the first chance I got, I snuck out of the hospital, and took off to the train station. My goal was to get back to Paris. I figured thart since I spoke some French, and so many Parisians spoke English, I would be ok. I also thought that it would be easier to get one of my parents to Paris than it would be to get them to Lisbon if needed. So I hopped on an overnight train that went from Lisbon to Madrid. The ride itself was fairly uneventful, although now I definitely knew I was really really sick. And I was really scared.

By the time we were in Madrid and I was getting ready to board the train to Paris, I was a wreck. My arm was swollen to the point that a man's t-shirt wasn't fitting around my forearm, and I normally have pretty thin arms. My fingers on my right arm were all numb, and I had
what I assume was a pretty high fever.

As I was getting on the train, I looked over at the train car behind me, and I saw a tall, blonde older woman. Something about her seemed familiar to me. I actually thought she looked a little like my mother. She was boarding the train car behind me with another woman. I don't know what made me do it, but I turned around and got on the train car she had just gotten on.
I sat kind of close to the two women, in a seat facing them. I sort of thought that if I got really scared, I could squint my eyes, and she might look enough like my mother to relax me. It didn't really work. I eventually just put my sunglasses on and tried to read and tried not to cry.

"Hon," I heard someone say in the thickest Chicago accent you ever heard. "Are you ok?"

I looked up at the woman, who, close up, looked nothing like my mother, but sure as shit sounded like her. What are the chances? On a train from Madrid to Paris?

"No!" I sobbed to her, and proceeded to tell her the whole story. (this is where you're going to be tempted to not believe me, but I swear it's ENTIRELY true)

Turns out, she's a traveling nurse. She's on a vacation with her sister but totally knows how to help me. She gets a hot rag for my arm, and a cool wrap for my head, and gives me a couple of pills. Then she gets the train conductor to contact the American embassy. Then she makes me sit with her and her sister. We talk for awhile, about the places we've travelled, and the places we're going to travel. Then we talk about where we're from. I'm from Chicago. She's from Chicago. I was raised on the North Side. She was raised on the South Side. My mother was raised on the South Side. I asked her where she went to high school. She said the name of a prominent and popular Catholic girl's school. Same prominent and popular Catholic girl's school my mother went to. She was my mother's age. I asked her the question, but I already knew the answer.

"Do you know my mother? Mama Grace?"

"Oh my Heaven, of COURSE I know Mama Grace. Everyone knew Mama Grace! She was class president. How's she

"She's...awesome" I said through sobs.

What are the chances... on a train from Madrid to Paris? There's just no way that was coincidence.

We finally arrived in Paris, and an ambulance was there to take me to the American Hospital in Paris. The very hospital, my new savior's sister pointed out, that Princess Diana was taken to after her fatal car accident. Poor Princess Di. What a sad and complicated life she led. And it ended when she was so young.

I ended up staying at the hospital for a few days, and then had to stay in Paris for a few more days to get my arm checked and the bandages redone every day. It put a little damper in my travel plans, but as my mother pointed out, there are worse places to be stuck than Paris. My mother sent the woman a thank you gift for helping me.

Things I learned during this time in Paris. And this is obviously not a complete list:

1. Mom's are very powerful people. And I love mine a lot.

2. Strangers can be good.

3. Don't expect good things out of a hotel called "Mr. Le Bed"

4. If you choose to stay at a Mr. Le Bed, don't get so depressed that you decide you should get drunk and cut your own

5. If you choose to stay at a Mr. Le Bed, and choose to get drunk and cut your own hair, make sure not to use the handy scissors on your Swiss Army Knife.

6. In so many ways, I am luckier than a princess.


anonymoushottie said...

Random, people-meeting travel stories are the bestest. Can't wait for champagne in a can after July!

VCUgirl said...

AWESOME story.
I suggest your rendering of the SLDN dinner night. Or even "A Day in the Life of Grace" toothpaste stains on your shirt and hobo comments included.
I'm happy no limb fell off or anything in the process of your spider bite.

rem said...

i remember you telling me this story. you must have an angel, grace. ;-)

Arielle said...

That is one ca-raaaazy story.

Daisy Duke said...

Have I mentioned lately that I heart you? And your self tanning streaks? And your weird arm scars?

obsquatch said...

I believe you. My mom is famous also. I'm turning 30 on July 12th. I plan on having blue hair and the most bad ass, filthly, sketchy mustache you've ever seen. What's your July demon? Would it help to face it with a mustache? I can let you borrow mine for a six pack of wine coolers.

Jane Know said...

I remember you telling this story, too. I love your stories. Tell more!

Oh, and "She gets a hot rag for my arm, and a cool wrap for my head, and gives me a couple of pills."

Cold or Warm Wet Rags are the panacea to... well...everything. They don't teach it in nursing school, but every nurse knows it. lol.