Let me tell you about Kelsey and I. We look absolutely nothing alike: She’s blonde and blue-eyed and petite, and I’m, well, Asian – dark-haired, dark-eyed, somewhat yellow in complexion.
We grew up in two completely different cities: She’s from Ridgewood, NJ, and I’m from Manila, PH (that’s short for the Philippines, yo). For undergrad, she went to George Washington University in D.C.; I went to Ateneo de Manila University in Q.C. (as in, Quezon City – I know, I know, doesn’t sound quite as cool).
If either of us had stayed in our respective continents, we might never have met. The odds, to misquote that cotton candy-haired lady in The Hunger Games, weren’t ever in our favor. Yet somehow, some way, we found each other in Boston, where we realized that despite our differences, we both have an uncanny ability to trip and stumble our way to (a kind of awkward) success.
For instance, since starting grad school in August, Kelsey and I have together crept into courtrooms and wandered around City Hall; trekked through melted snow in suburban Massachusetts; and ridden the Orange Line end-to-end in just about a day, all in pursuit of a story. We’ve lost ourselves in cities and suburbs alike, and each time it was before we could reach for our favorite bottles of wine.
And now, we find ourselves in Salamanca, a world away from most everything and everyone we know. You’d think that maybe, with the culture and grace of Europe surrounding us, we’d find in ourselves some measure of poise.
You’d think wrong. This afternoon, after a day of classroom orientations and sangrias by the new cathedral, we found ourselves running late for dinner with our host family. Maria, our reliable, Spanish-speaking roommate who is also our translator and guide, went off with some of our other classmates to translate for them. (Apparently being roomies doesn’t mean we get sole possession of her and her talents. Darn.) Kelsey and I, afraid to offend our hosts with tardiness, rushed back to our homestay… and promptly got lost.
We wandered the streets for a few long minutes, looking for familiar landmarks, fretting about being late. (Context: This morning, our host sister – who insists that she isn’t old enough to be our biological mother, so no way can we call her that – was complaining about former study-abroad students who would never tell her they wouldn’t be home for dinner. We had no desire to be a future anecdote.) When we finally found our street, having spotted a Zara that we recognized, we walked up to the apartment building and triumphantly pulled out our keys, sticking one in the lock.
It wouldn’t budge.
Tried the other key: Wouldn’t fit. Went back to the first key, which still refused to move, no matter how hard we tried. We contemplated buzzing the apartment, but realized we didn’t know at which number our hosts lived. Maria was still tied up, so we sat our sad, defeated tushes on the curb and waited.
It was almost 10 minutes before a woman who was leaving the building opened the door. I caught it before it closed and we rushed in. We trudged guiltily into our host’s kitchen, where our “sister” told us that it wasn’t her fault if the meat she’d cooked was dry – it had, after all, been sitting on the pan for more than half an hour, waiting for us. (For the record, the meat was just fine.)
Things could have been worse, but it was another (typical) J&K adventure for the books, and it’s only Day Two. I can’t imagine what the next five weeks have in store.