In Madrid, the air hangs thick tonight under the full moon’s stare. A hot, sticky fatigue seeps into the marrow of your bones, shackling you to wherever you sit. Even the air refuses to move. Your breathing slows, your eyes unfocus; your mind numbs; detached. You crawl into bed and try to sleep with the hopes that the worst of it will pass as you slumber peacefully, but the relentless haze surrounding you guards you from sleep.
So you lie… you toss… turn… and wait…
…for the haze to lift…
…and to take in that lungful of fresh, crisp morning air that awakens your senses once again, bringing you back to yourself.
Although the heat trapped in Madrid’s jungle of concrete is far from letting me be tonight, there is a different haze that’s already begun to lift from around me.
Somewhere after getting back from Belgium, I lost myself. I don’t know where I put me, but I’m starting to piece it back together.
Homeless and jobless I returned to Madrid… but not friendless. Thanks to the support of some wonderful friends and family, I’ve been kept sheltered and fed these past weeks. I took on a job at an Irish pub to make money for school, and found myself entering a world that can easily consume the people who enter it. When you work from 8:30 at night ‘til 6 in the morning, it messes with you. You go to bed as the sun comes up, waking up during the hottest part of the day with just a few hours between shuffling out of bed and heading out the door to go back to work. You do this 6 days a week. On the one day off you have, you sleep through half of it. If you’re lucky, getting to bed at a decent hour to give you some time the day after to do something before you start the cycle again.
I lived out of a backpack of clothes that I brought to the apartment I was living in, although I only really needed one outfit – black pants and a black shirt – day after day after day. In a box was anything that I owned that would define where I slept as ‘home.’ And it was this ‘homelessness’ that I found hardest. Something about never coming back to a place that acts as your own private sanctuary, a place you feel a vital part of.
A strange degree of detachment took over as I continued without a place to call my home and a job that left me on opposite schedules as the rest of the functioning world.
For some, it’s the perfect job. Up all night, freeze booze, drunk and horny women/men – Bacchus’ playground. There was one guy I worked with that bragged about his nightly quota which was to spend a few minutes in a dark corner of the dance floor with a young lady.
To be honest, I was not meant to work in a bar. Maybe it was too many years of the easily taken for granted schedule of the English Teacher or that none of the additional ‘perks’ working in the bar industry offers its employees really interested me that much. Plus, the crappy pay and the stress of not being able to go see apartments because I had to work when most people wanted to show the rooms didn’t make it any better.
Plus, the bosses were a pair of true assholes. No joke. Not only did they pay shit wage and overwork their employees, they were racist bastards as well. Not a single person who worked there was legally contracted (except for the managers.) Most were Romanian, although you had a few South Americans, Polish and Australian. To maintain the desired clientele, the Romanian doormen were instructed by the owners to deny entry to or charge obscene cover charges to any of the following:
Moroccans or any other Arabs
The only reason I stayed on as long as I did was for the people I worked with. I wouldn’t think twice about screwing over the bosses, but I didn’t want to leave the people I worked with high and dry. They were a good group of people. If it weren’t for them, I would have left within a few days of starting.
But when the managers started to take advantage of my kindness, I drew the line. Because of the job schedule, I was having a tough time getting in to see apartments, and because I had already given my notice, they had put me out on the street to hand out flyers ‘til 4 in the morning. Upon expressing my frustration with the situation, I was given guilt trips and called dishonorable for wanting to leave before my scheduled last day.
The next day I told the owner I wanted out and to pay me.
Since then I’ve been experiencing something which I can only describe as ‘jet lag.’ – just without the fun of travelling. I’ve finally gotten back onto a normal sleep schedule and am spending my days helping a couple paint their apartment and waiting to move into the new place I found just a day after quitting the job. (I’ll go into that more when I have the time.)
And I’m looking forward to ridding myself of that haze I stumbled into and finding my way back to myself.