Rejection at the Alhambra

“My phone provides the only light in this dark twelve bed dorm. This patch is itchy. I can barely see.” I scribbled in my journal in illegible ink. “10/30/18”

The walking tour began at 10:30. More statues, another cathedral, more streets. It ended around noon. I left the group to find something to eat.

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She wore an autumn yellow sweater, knit, brunette hair, rich, and a red flower, on her ear. I followed her into the café after a brief glimpse, from across the street. A tiny place, with three tables all sharing the same booth.

She spoke Spanish. Her brown eyes looked native. “Are you from here?” I asked. “No” she laughed. “I’m British”. “Oh, what brings you to Granada?” I inquired, now with even more interest. “I’m… Well, I was an au pair.” “You were?” I followed. “Yes, I came here to be an au pair, but I’ve been here for a month, and I’ve had enough.” She said.

“So, what’s next?” I asked. “I don’t know to be honest. I’ll just be happy to be in England.” That accent…

“When do you leave?” I had to know. “I’ve got a cab to the airport in 45 minutes.” “What a shame we’ve just met.” I confessed. “It is.” She agreed. “But, if you’d like, I can show you a few spots before I go.” She offered. We finished our food and took to the streets.

Out of the town center, the cobblestone roads grew steep. “This area’s called Albaicin” she said. “It’s quiet now, but at night it’s happening.” “Although, sometimes I like to come up here and sit in silence.” I snapped a photo of her from her favorite spot, Plaza Mirador de San Nicolas. “Ah, I am going to miss this place.” She said. “I understand.” I did.

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Back down toward the center, I walked her to the cab. “Let’s keep in touch. I’ll grab your number.” It was her suggestion. “Well, I guess this is it. It was really nice meeting you.” I said. She opened her arms wide. And I went in for a kiss.

The city fell silent, and the sunlight dimmed. Abruptly, she turned her head. “Oh no, I’m not like that!” She exclaimed. She was leaving, I’d probably never see her again. No regrets. We laughed awkwardly, then parted ways.

Toward a café, I went. I had to recount those events.

The breeze picked up as I looked for a place to sit. The clouds got thick and grey. Past a construction site. A gust of wind. The particle entered my eye. I brushed at it. It got worse. My vision began to blur. “Ouch.” became “Shit!”

Toward the visitor’s center I’d just passed, I retraced my steps. In the bathroom, I flushed franticly in the sink. It didn’t help. I stumbled downstairs, with my face soaking wet. “I have something in my eye” I said to the women at the counter. “What?” they didn’t understand. “My eye. Mi ojo!” I tried to explain. They could tell I was in pain.

A discussion ensued between them. “Okay, I’ll take you to the clinic.” The younger woman said.

She held my arm and guided me blindly through the rainy streets. Looking down with my good eye made it easier to avoid the urge to scan the scene. Stones and puddles. Splashes and concerns.

No insurance, unable to speak the language, and losing vision. When we arrived at the first clinic, I again tried to flush my eye in the restroom. Again, it only seemed to get worse. There was a two hour wait. We left to try another place.

“What can they possibly do at a general clinic?” “This is bad.” “How much will they charge me?” “It doesn’t matter.” “I’m not willing to go blind just to save a dime.” Again, we sat, waiting.

We talked about Granada, about my interest in photography, about how I’d come to visit southern Spain. I thanked her repeatedly for her generosity. She said it was no trouble, she had no one to get home to. She lived alone. Then finally, “Tyler, it’s time.”.

An elderly Spanish man with white hair and a long white coat ushered me toward an observation seat. An Optometrist. What a relief. The woman explained to him what happened. He examined for a bit, then flipped up my eyelids and began scraping. He added some anesthetic drops, then patched it.

“Corneal abrasion from woodchips”, the diagnosis. “Wear the patch for twenty-four hours and use the drops for five days”, the prescription.

As for the price? The doctor said through translation, it’s normally 100 euro for the visit, but because I was a guest in Spain, he saw it fit to charge me just 45.

Saint Marie, I never did get her name, walked me back toward my hostel, The Granada Inn. I thanked her and gave her a big hug. She returned a motherly kiss.

Back in my bunk, I called my Dad. I hadn’t talked to him since beginning my trip. I had so much to say. I didn’t even know where to begin.

Rejection hurts. Corneal abrasions do too. But nothing scares quiet like a memory. So much can happen in a day.