Today I woke up late and barely made it to the train on time. I did, though. At the connecting station, I chatted a bit with Juan. They had let him out of work early yesterday so he had gone home early. We ran into that guy who I mentioned yesterday. He doesn’t speak English as well as Juan, so he explained to Juan in Spanish. He mentioned that he had seen me every day on the train and that he worked in the city where the connecting station is. I asked Juan if he was friends with the guy. He said this was only the second time he had spoken to him. Instead of sitting with his friends today, he sat with me in the seat behind them. They ended up mostly talking about soccer anyway, a game I have little interest in. However, I was excited that I was able to mostly follow the conversation which was held in rapid Spanish! I made sure to hold out my hand to him and he shook it. I was relieved, but I didn’t quite know why.
My day was a long one. The classes and students were mostly good, but I had to deal with an angry parent, which was never fun. This one insinuated that I was a bad teacher. I was still dwelling on it when I ran into Juan. He told me that he can tell that I’m a good person so that parent must have been wrong. I was on the verge of tears and he made me feel better with that comment. When we got on the train, it was too full for us to sit together. After the next station, I found a seat with room, but he was gone from where he was standing. I found him in the next car where he had also found a seat with enough room for us both. He said he was afraid what others would think if he came looking for me because I’m white and he’s not. I’m not sure what exactly he was worried about, if others would think I shouldn’t be hanging out with him because he’s not white or if I shouldn’t be hanging out with him because I am. Either way, I told him I didn’t care. We continued to talk like we usually would, but every so often he’d say something to give me a hard time, so I found myself inadvertently nudging him with my elbow in a playful way. The second or third time I did it, I realized that I was doing it. I tried to stop. I just felt so comfortable around him that I didn’t notice. He told me that the guy we briefly talked to in the morning had told him that I was “bonita” which translates to “beautiful”. I told him “No interesante”, which I hoped meant I was not interested. It turned out to mean he was not interesting, which was also true. I told him that I wasn’t going to be there on Monday because I had the day off. I’m getting better able to understand him now, but there were still a few times when I had to have him repeat himself, but they’re less often now.
When I got home, I worked on cleaning my apartment even more. I straightened up as much as I could, took out the garbage, cleaned the bathroom, washed dishes, swept and mopped, and washed the mirrors. This took almost until the time that Rich showed up. He got here around 10pm when I was already starting to nod off while trying to read a book. It seemed incredibly awkward at first, but I had kind of expected it. Honestly, we hadn’t spoken in at least 10 years. I looked at his face and saw the difference wrought by time. His body was still very small. He was about my height, but very skinny. Even his head seemed delicate and small. He had developed several wrinkles, mostly in his forehead and had grown facial hair that had a few strands of grey in it. While still sleight of build, his appearance no longer looked boyish like it had in college. We talked, but he kept stopping his words at odd parts of the sentences showing that either he was nervous or he had some kind of speech issue that I didn’t remember. I found myself speaking in a similar way, so perhaps it was nerves or the fact that I was too tired to talk in a coherent manner. After chatting for a little while, we both went to bed. We wanted to start hiking early in the morning.