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Madrid, Madrid, Madrid

Day 2: I have to be a responsible adult and get on with it.

I may be in the city but my internal clock is still in the country. Fully awake at 5:30 am and all of Madrid is asleep with the exception of a top floor flat that is awake as I am.

Blood work at 9 and other random test, yes Lupus Sucks.

American Embassy at 11 and my morning is gone.

Ticket purchased for Nixon in China at the Opera and evening is booked. All the hours in between, I will make it up as I go along.

The Mad Scientists

Having an incurable immunological disease that has left my heart broken- pericarditis and myocarditis. My lungs without air-pneumonia twice and Influenza A. Requires me to avoid direct sunlight when UV is higher than 4- skin lesions appear similar to 3rd degree burns and not to mention the multiple short circuits in my brain that have me lose consciousness when highly stressed does not stop me in my tracks. Going to a specialist does.

There are cardiologists, neurologists, dermotaligists and the list goes on. They poke, they prod, they question. I get attached to wires, liquids are drained from my body, inspection of my nude 5 foot 4 frame done by strangers. Placed in a pod to look into my insides and lastly a ultrasonic device pulsing over my right kidney covered in cold slimy gel. I always feel like some lab experiment.

Today was nephrologist and hematologists. I am still amazed that ten years ago I may have not known one from the other. They were all "OLOGISTS" to me, a specialist in the medical field I had no need for. But having knocked on deaths door several times already and trading in life lines, going straight to a bloodsucker to retrieve multiple tubes of blood seems like a quarterly thing on any given year since diagnosed. But the nephrologist is what I fear most today. I tried, desperately, to avoid having to go trying to reschedule or delay my appointments, the medical team did not want to hear of it.

The thing about this disease is at first glance I appear to be fine but when not feeling my best is a sure sign that something is wrong and my own body is attacking me aiming to destroy.

After six tubes of blood were drawn, ultrasounds were done, the doctor resumes with an on going list of questions. Repeated several for affirmation to my answers that may have been a bit deceiving.

How are you feeling? Fine- I bent the truth.

How is the pain? Manageble- It was at that moment.

How are you resting and sleeping? OK- Naps count as rest and sleep.

How is your diet? Healthy- I down right lied, I often forget to eat.

And now I wait for the results.

My Fellow Americans (A public service announcement.)

The staff at the American embassy is there to help you,.

Your needs are not more important than the queue before you or the one after you. We are all equal, unless your life is in danger.

Got to my appointment on time smooth entry after security, had priority entrance, it all felt great until the door was opened and the scene unfolded.

Frantic American who was the victim of a pickpockets sobbing hysterically because she did not have her passport, any i.d. or money for that matter... Stop crying, it's ok, they are there to help you.

Cocky American waiting near the queue, ushering people to where she thought they needed to be when too close to her. No need, everything is well organised and signs are clear, we can find it.

Person raising his voice- upset and complaining about the process of general paper work. Be prepared, don´t become distressed if you do not have the documentation needed, it is simply because you did not read the instructions of process. Try again.

No you can not have your mobile with you.

Why do people insist on complicating the simplest of tasks?

I was in and out in thirty minutes.

...and God Bless America

The Shy Actor

Reached out to an actor virtual friend of mine before reaching the American Embassy to meet.

During the pandemic he created a literary series on social media reciting passages by Spanish literary masters, poetry and contemporary writers.

He was my scheduled afternoon story time with a poetic voice that filled a part of the long days of isolation. His company through a screen for however long the reading was removed all sense of fear, uncertainty and at times hopelessness. Words floated in the air and I would be shrouded with calm from beginning to end with every word he spoke.

I always admired his acting on the small screen and public theatre. His five year world renowned television series made him recognisable to the masses, but he caught my eye in a small role in a biopic series before he became a household name. How he effortlessly dominated the scene with a few words amongst very well established thespians left an impression on me. Throughout the years we have had e-mail exchanges, our one true connection via wi-fi- our love for theatre.

We agreed to meet at Opera an hour before a casting call he was to go to. My intention was to personally thank him for being so generous of his time, but truth be told, I really wanted to meet him in the flesh.

I have never been known to be starstruck by someone and the shy actor was no exception.

I waited in the shade under the opera billboards as he approached the square. He has a very distinguished look about him and I spotted him immediately. His dark blue summer linen sports coat and his trademark summer fedora, the brim grazing his dark sunglasses. Timeless and classic.

I do not know what he was expecting but he did not pick me out of a small crowd, so I approached him and to his surprise, there I was.

Meeting with him I felt the ease of meeting with an old friend I have not seen in a long time.

Greeting with the customary two kisses, one on each cheek, he had a nervous laughter and stared to the ground in shyness then up at me with a smile. His smile won me over. He is real, he is not this overconfident actor, although handsome and talented. I have seen him portray roles older than his real age, however he did appear younger than he actually is.

We searched for a bar tucked away from the beaten path behind the Royal Opera and sat for an iced coffee. Conversation flowed without difficulty, his kind eyes attentive to every word I spoke once he realised I was not there to talk about his television series. I wanted to know about him. What is in the works after I missed two critically acclaimed theatre performances he was casted in due to my scheduling and distance. But as with all artistic projects mum´s the word. He asked questions, had curiosity of things I do, where I am from etc. Our encounter left no time for silent pauses when mutual interest was apparent.

I felt valued after feeling so vulnerable in the morning.

I yearn to see him on stage portraying a role of a ruthless dignified villain or of an unhinged psycho. A break away from his romantic, pleasant demeanour and loyal portrayals of characters I am accustomed to seeing him in, however In many ways it is who he really is, a kind person.

Our coffee talk hour sped into memory quickly and he was off to his casting call. A warm embrace and "MUCHA MIERDA" (break a leg) was our goodbye mutually stating, if only we had more time to talk.

Nixon In China Intercepted By My Ride Or Die Crew In Madrid

There are times in life when strong bonds happen unexpectedly and my ride or die crew in Madrid is that bond. Barbie, Mike and Juna. Our15 year relationship untarnished, unbreakable, loyal and fun. Every time I am down in Madrid they rearrange their schedule or cancel all together to meet me wherever I am. They very well knew I was just a short time in the capital and wasn't really up for any shenanigans. It was so unlike me, they were surprised. Once I arrived to Madrid spoke with Barbie about just laying low but she was not having it, met me for a late lunch of smoked salmon within twenty minutes of my arrival. Although younger than me, she in her motherly ways stated, "I needed to come down to make sure you eat something".

She suggested I go up to the house for lunch today I declined after knowing all too well what my morning will be like and wanted to rest up a bit not yet having reached out to the "Shy Actor" but low and behold just fifteen minutes after my encounter with him today phone is pinging, it is Juna asking numerous questions I had no time to respond to. The last message, "I made a pasta salad for you, I know you haven't eaten we are coming down". She was right, I hadn't eaten since my late lunch of smoke salmon with Barbie.

Ok, let's do this, curtain call is 7:30 pm I can easily attend the second act. I have seen the production numerous times. The convenience of having the Royal Opera House across the street was an impulse buy not really having anything planned for the evening keeping in mind I had an early departure the next morning.

My crew, how can I not be with them when in Madrid. Walking arm in arm down the busy commercial strip that leads to Sol, the crossroad of the world for everyone who sets foot in this city. Kilometre zero where new things can always be manifested. Our goal this evening was to find a Japanese Tea Room located in one of the many archways of Plaza Mayor whose name we never seem to remember. We spot the tourists, we eye the pickpockets. We make light of all the organised chaos that surrounds us and add a little of our own chaos until we finally find the Japanese Tea Room.

We said our goodbyes with a group hug till next time...

Made it to the opera house for the third act...

"On the last evening of the visit, as they lie in their respective beds, the chief protagonists muse on their personal histories in a surreal series of interwoven dialogues. Nixon and Pat recall the struggles of their youth; Nixon evokes wartime memories ("Sitting round the radio"). Mao and Chiang Ch'ing dance together, as the Chairman remembers "the tasty little starlet" who came to his headquarters in the early days of the revolution. As they reminisce, Chiang Ch'ing asserts that "the revolution must not end". Chou meditates alone; the opera finishes on a thoughtful note with his aria "I am old and I cannot sleep", asking: "How much of what we did was good?" The early morning birdcalls are summoning him to resume his work, while "outside this room the chill of grace lies heavy on the morning grass". (Nixon In China Act III)

Upon ending my day it was life imitating art imitating life from beginning to end. It is almost poetic.

The last evening of my visit.

Earlier in the day I mused about my youth.

My wartime time moments at the doctor and my battle against lupus is nowhere near the end.

Walking arm in arm in what appeared like a choreographed sequence with my friends reminiscing about my last trip down through streets of chaos.

As the day ends, I can not sleep

The early morning street noises will summon my departure.

©2020-2024 NYC Artist In The Woods. All Rights Reserved.


May 11, 2023

Thank you so much for sharing this “adventure “ with us. When dealing with health issues it is such a blessing to have friends old and new to bring love, happiness and peace into our lives! Hugs my friend💕🙏🏾🎵

Julissa Quesada
Julissa Quesada
May 13, 2023
Replying to

Thank you Christine for being such a loyal follower and a true friend. the health factor is something I yet to learn to balance. But through it all, I refuse to surrender walking city streets and talking with strangers. much love to you. J-

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