I’m pretty sure I’m never leaving Lugo. It feels a bit like the Truman Show and I’m Truman. I sat at a cafe at lunch and mapped out a whole new imagined world where I have this accident, enter the town, and am never actually able to get my car fixed. Then Covid lockdown happens and I’m permanently stuck. Wait? It would have sounded far fetched pre-2020. But it’s totally plausible now. Not one publisher could read it and say ‘That would never happen.’ Cause it could – I’m living it.
My new best friend took me out to the dealership to get an update on my car. ‘We hope to have it ready to go by next Thursday or Friday. We will see.’ I’m so numb to this entire thing I just said ‘OK. Let me know if that changes.’ So we left. No railing against the elongated timeline like the old Kelli would. No gnashing of teeth, pushing them and fenagling. Nope. There is no point. It will be what it will be. I barely recognize this new calm, compliant version of myself.
I came back to the hotel and walked to the front desk. Before I could speak, the girl greeted me with ‘Do you need to extend your stay?’ I swear the dealership must have phoned her. She probably knew before I did. The phrase ‘Everybody knows’ flashed into my head.
‘Yes.’ I told her. ‘Until the end of next week, so far. I’ll keep you updated on developments in real-time, as they roll in. Do you have rooms available?’ I asked her, trying to keep a straight face, already knowing the answer. The entire hotel is empty. They could give me 10 rooms, or an entire floor, and not know the difference.
‘Let me check.’ She typed furiously, like it would matter. ‘Yes. You are confirmed.’ It was touch and go there for 5 seconds.
‘Great! Thanks.’ Then, I headed up stairs.
Hotels in Spain in the time of Covid are interesting. They’ve taken all the soft furnishings (except the bed and one chair) out of the rooms. No carpets or anything that can’t be wiped down, or whose cover or sheets can’t be removed and sanitized. They seal the door with a sticker after they clean it that says ‘Clean and Safe’. But one thing that is very strange is the toilet paper situation.
Now I know that most people don’t stay in a hotel for more than a few days. Even though I may never leave this one. But in Covid times they can’t leave anything in the room from one guest to another. They have to assume it’s been contaminated with the virus. There is no folder with brochures for attractions on the desk, or room service menu. Or a tablet with the hotel name emblazoned on the masthead, with the requisite pen they hope you take home to keep their property top of mind for your next visit to their fair city. None of it. And as to toilet paper – they have to throw out any of an unused roll after a guest checks out, even if you’ve used none of it. So they put the bare minimum of toilet paper – the very, very smallest rolls ever produced in the history of toilet paper – in the bathrooms, and no spare rolls.
Why am I rambling on about toilet paper? Because I am now semi-perma living in this room in Lugo. And every day, because I don’t have the maid clean my room daily, frankly, to protect us both, I have to go to the front desk and ask for more toilet paper. Ok – I hear it. You might say ‘Kelli, it’s because you’re so full of shit’. Yeah – no – though you may be right about it in another context. Its because they’re rationing it out. It’s like we’re in the middle of a war in the 1940’s London. I’ve started eyeing the newspaper in the lobby with longing as a contingency plan. So when the girl at the desk asked me if I needed to extend my stay when I entered the hotel, she had a 50/50 shot at whether I’d need more time or just another roll of toilet paper. Probably both.
They dole out micro TP to me in individual sealed plastic bags tied with a knot. I am truly baffled as to why since I’ve seen her pull them out – unsealed – from beneath her desk, put it in the plastic bag, knot it and then hand it to me. She wasn’t gloved up so I’m not sure what this charade is all about, but every time I get a new one I think ‘Whew – I’m good for 24 hours more.’ They know how long I’m staying yet they never offer me even two baby rolls at one go. Its like the rules have been written out and there’s no deviation from the toilet paper rationing plan. ‘One roll per room per day. No more!’ If Jeff were here we’d have to go to the local Gadis grocery store and buy our own supply to get through lunch time. Or a fight would break out. It always does. Just never over toilet paper. New horizons, I suppose.
Today I have another coffee with my new friend and a date to walk the wall. She’s a pretty interesting person with strong opinions on nearly every topic. My favorite kind of person. I get to just sit back and listen. Me speaking is not a requirement in this burgeoning friendship. Good thing, too, because I’m so bored with my own thoughts I’m more than thrilled to hear hers without adding my two cents. I feel like a journalist taking notes, or a therapist. She’s been locked up in an apartment, or their rural farm, for the better part of 6 months. She has a lot to say. There’s more than one book lurking in this place. I can feel it. Maybe that’s why I’m stuck here. The universe works in mysterious ways and I just need to surrender to it.