The past couple of weeks have been sort of rough, healthwise, and that, coupled with it now being the summer (Important Side Note To All Southerners: It is the heat AND the humidity, BOTH. Please stop lying about how the heat is inconsequential in my inability to breathe once I set foot outside), means that I really haven’t been feeling all that funny lately.
However, posting about our trip to Spain made me think that, because it occurred many years before this blog was even a twinkle in my eye, I could probably mine that time for a few funny stories. And as it turned out, I was right.
When my husband and I began planning our trip, we decided to do so along the lines suggested by Rick Steves, whose PBS show we regularly watched. Rick, (as we came to call him), suggested that we just pack up our bags and head on over to Europe with simply a hotel reservation for the first night, and one for the last night, and that we then just kind of make the rest up as we went along. This kind of plan works great if you are like my husband, always calm and laid-back, always believing that things are going to work out just fine, and complete with your own highly-honed internal sense of direction.
HOWEVER: if you have, as I did, an as-yet-undiagnosed-yet-EXTREMELY-crippling anxiety disorder, this plan was pretty much the equivalent of agreeing to spend a lot of money to go and fall off the edge of the earth into the never-ending abyss of hell. Because the human mind is just incapable of dealing with all of the possible things that need to be worried about when you leave the safety and security of your home and JAUNT OFF TO EUROPE FOR TEN DAYS WITH NO PLAN.
But the worst thing that tormented me about this upcoming trip was the fact that Spanish and I had a deep, dark, and-to my mind, at least-very shameful secret, which was this: I had somehow managed to earn a Master’s Degree in Spanish without ever having stepped foot in a Spanish-speaking country. So ever since I received said degree I had been on my guard, waiting for my university and advisory committee to “find me out”, recognize their egregious error, track me down, and yank my diploma right out of my hands. Because clearly, never before, in the history of fakers, impostors, and shams, had there been a more horrible faker than me.
My husband, unfortunately, was unaware that he was living with such a flagrant impostor, and so was therefore counting on me to handle all of the communication responsibilities related to this trip.
And so, because I was so far along the path of this long con (I was currently teaching Spanish at a local community college, if you can even believe my cheek), it was too late for me to repent and therefore be absolved of this burdensome task of speaking to other people in the language in which I held a graduate degree. And so, HELLO, OVERWHELMING PSYCHIC BURDEN BEFORE WE EVEN LEFT HOME.
Because, what if what I had learned in school was not actually Spanish? Or, what if they didn’t actually speak Spanish in Spain, and I had been lied to all these years? What if I had earned two degrees in something that wasn’t even real? What if, the second I opened my mouth in Spain, with the effrontery of trying to pass off my imaginary language as Spanish, I so offended the Spanish people that I was executed on the spot?
So I’m sure you can imagine the level of freaking-out I had already reached by the time my husband informed me that, on the following morning, I was going to have to call Spain and set up our first hotel reservation. And then on top of that, lucky dog that I am, here was where my two worst nightmares were going to meet: my fear of talking on the phone; and the moment of truth where it would be revealed that, despite my alleged mastery of the subject, I could not actually speak a word of “real” Spanish.
Happily, the rest of the story is pretty anti-climactic; the phone call easily went through to Spain, it turned out that I actually was learning Spanish all those years (shocking, I know) so the hotel clerk was able to understand me with no problems at all, and I”m sure I was able to take a nap to make up for the eight hours I spent not sleeping the night before, while I rehearsed my script for the phone call over and over and over again.
But looking back, and realizing that this pattern is how I reacted to, conservatively speaking, every single thing that ever happened to me, I guess it’s not a surprise that now, in my thirties, my exhausted body has collapsed into fibromyalgia, most likely accompanied by chronic fatigue. Because I guess there are only so many thousands of times that you can whip your adrenals into preparing for a full-on crisis that actually turns out to be no big deal before they give you the finger, pop open a beer, and refuse to get off of the sofa ever again. (A moment that could possibly occur around the 4th day after you turn 35, in case you’re interested in any kind of “ballpark” figure.)
So I’m off to rest (which apparently is the next area in which I’m having to earn a Master’s Degree), and meanwhile,
Adiós, amigos. Espero que tengan un buen Día de Independencia.