Tranquila, Kelli

Yup, it sounds like ‘tequila’, and while the effects might be similar, the word is something quite different. Tranquila means be calm or content in Spanish. Just chill. And people in every corner of Spain say it to me ALL THE TIME. Now, I don’t know about you, but when someone tells me to ‘calm down’ that’s pretty much the last thing I’m going to do. Jeff rarely attempts this maneuver with me unless he’s feeling lucky on a particular day. And that’s just about the time his luck usually runs out.

The checker at the grocery store says it to me if I try to wave my card with the chip over the reader too soon. The guy who validates my card on the tram does the same. Our landlord, who I adore, says it to me every time we have contact with one another – and not just that time with the locked door and the bone scan thing.

Since conception I have never been one to rest on my laurels. When I was in college I went to a psychic fair, but it didn’t take a psychic to figure out that my shakras were aligned around Doing. A LOT of Doing. When I lived in Chicago, I had a healing by an actual trained shaman (who was an ex-Catholic nun married to an ex-priest – interesting combo). I had never met her before the moment of the healing but she told me afterward that one of the main things I need to learn in this iteration of life is patience. So, yeah. Not surprising that everyone in Spain can see it too.

Over the years, I’ve endeavored to conquer this trait of mine. But I find sometimes it’s a super power. I’ll plow ahead and knock down just about every barrier to any goal I’m trying to achieve. Jeff mostly stays out of the way and just watches. Mostly. But sometimes it can hold me back. Because sometimes waiting is more important than pushing ahead.

On one of my many visits to churches recently, I was sitting in the large empty space at night. I have been having a hard time sleeping. Praying helps. A voice as clear as a bell said ‘Slow down, kid.’ And it made me open my eyes and look around. There was no one there. But I can still hear that voice.

So as you do, in the midst of everything going on in our lives right now, we bought a car. When I took my Spanish driving license exams my instructor, Tino, used to pepper me with ‘Tranquila, Kelli’ constantly while I was learning to drive a stick. Jeff just got his Authorizacion Temporal Para Conducir (temporary driving permit) today. This after the Jefatura lost his written exam results and we had to go down there and prove he took the exam, and watched as they pecked on green screen after green screen, consulted multiple people, frowned, talked to themselves over and over, and finally banged loudly on lots of keys (not a Spanish thing typically – No tranquila) to find him in the Matrix. Pro Tip: NEVER EVER hyphenate your name. In Spain, they will lose you forever in their systems. Airlines around the globe will do it, too.

After he passed his practical driving test they lost it again, and it’s taken weeks and weeks for him to get the paper permit. When this happened yet again, Jeff just said ‘Of course. It’s why my luggage never makes it here when I fly home from the states. It’s the curse of the f*#king hypen!’ But I knew enough not to tell him ‘Tranquila, el Jefe’ because I wanted to stay married. I just made the appointment two weeks out (first available) and offered to walk down to the office for the 150th time and, finally, it was straightened out.

We knew Jeff had passed his test – the examiner told him afterward, even though we couldn’t get the temporary pass. When I passed mine we bought paddle boards to celebrate. When Jeff passed? We bought a car.

The car buying process here is interesting. You can read about it in Lessons Learned (so far), but generally, it required a bunch of what I like to call Mucho tranquila, Kelli. This is where the person(s) I’m dealing with, and myself, are not operating in the same lane of how fast things need to get done. And I’m not sure why I’m surprised. That’s how everything is here. And it’s also why these people will live to be 100 and I’ll probably have a stroke or heart attack next Wednesday. My shaman wouldn’t be pleased with me.

In the US, when you buy a car – especially with cash – it will take about 2 hours. I’ve done this a few times. Easy, peasy. In and out. You’re dictating terms because you’re going to write a big fat check, and the person sitting across from you knows this and they want the dinero. They’ll bring you water, horrible coffee, anything to keep you happy. You will decline all of it because you just want it to be over. The only snag you might have is when Homeland Security calls you a week later to ask you where all that money came from. Yes – this happened to us. Ugh. But here? No. You could be purchasing a Mclaren and have a Louis Vuitton trunk filled with cash that you’re using as your foot stool. It will not grease the skids. This process will go as fast as it will go. You just have to surrender to it. Again, tranquila Kelli.

On a sunny Monday we went to the dealership and walked in sin cita (without appointment). We were lucky – the guy didn’t have another client nor appointment at that hour and he spoke enough ingles that we could muddle through combined with our sad espanol. We looked at some cars and asked if we could make an appointment to test drive one. Usually, you will need an appointment for a test drive and it will be days or a week down the road. But, he said ‘Why not now?’ and we agreed. Here’s where Jeff not having that little important paper actually matters, because I would be doing the test driving. And I did a little thing that made us all go ‘Oh yeah! This isn’t the US. No free right turn on red.’ I only did it once after Jeff said ‘What country are you driving in?’ and the salesman in the back seat laughed nervously, took some nitro glycerin tablets and said ‘Oh, they let you do that in America?’ And Jeff said ‘Not legally the way she just did it. but yeah, in some states.’ So – we live. We learn – oops!

I’m happy to say we all survived the test drive and came back to the dealership. The salesman had me pull on to the sidewalk in front so that they could pull the car in through the front doors and put the car back behind the glass. But I remembered lesson one, day one, from my learning to drive in Spain. ‘Never, ever, under any circumstances will you drive your vehicle on the sidewalk. Except…’ It was in the book and on the test. But I did as he told me and I even managed to avoid hitting the old lady with the grocery cart and the walker who was in my way. And the cop who, after I stopped the car, opened my door for me and inquired ‘What the actual hell do you think you’re doing!?’ in espanol. Thank God he didn’t see me make that San Francisco free-right-turn earlier. Whew! I promptly teared up – tears are close to the surface for me these days. The salesman furiously explained the situation. The cop apologized and told me not to cry. Again, with the Tranquila. Jeff just looked at all three of us like we were out of our minds and walked inside, waiting for the kerfuffle to end.

This is where the purchase process could start. Translations were needed. I won’t go into all of it but it was a lot. Jeff had to leave halfway through, as he had another appointment. But in Spain the car is in only one person’s name, even if they’re married. Since I had a Spanish driving license (on me) and I’d had it for a year, then it would be in my name. He would be allowed to drive it as a member of my family. And since I’m his wife and he’s a dude, he will automatically inherit it upon my demise. Don’t get me started on what I’ve learned of Spanish inheritance laws.

But I wouldn’t be taking it home that day. Oh no. There would be gymnastics and complications galore. Wire transfers that took days to post, insurance acquisition nonsense, photos. Finally, ending with Jeff scraping the side of the car pulling it out of our parking space. But we’ll let things cool off on that front before we go into the story that involves the annual shaking of the orange trees on our street, swearing, and a lot of heavy farm equipment on a narrow Benimachlet street. The insurance guy just smiled at me and actually said ‘Tranquila.‘ as he inspected the ‘scratch’. I wanted to punch him.

Yes, it took 2 full weeks before we could pick up our car. And through it all, I have been taking deep breaths, going to my weekly massages, and following my Doctor’s orders who, at my last annual physical, actually prescribed ‘You must drink at least one glass of red wine per day. This is mandatory.’ He looked very serious and stern when he said it, and since he’s a licensed professional – I assume – its finally something I can Tranquila, Kelli the hell out of it.

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