...continued from "Independent´s Day"
(if you haven´t read that one, read it first)
In the dim lamplight, I read. Turning the pages softly so as not to disturb Nancy, but I needn´t have bothered. There´s no way she could really be sleeping under the circumstances. Our hostal room faced the street, a popular busy paseo in the center of Madrid. The walls of the building, which had seemed dense enough from the outside, did absolutely nothing to filter the noise.
It was half past 1 am and the streets were more crowded than they had been during the day. The more conservative tourists had retired to their hotel rooms (as we had done) and had been replaced with a mix of nightlife-loving internationals and natives. Bright lights, copious amount of cerveza and the promise of good times lifted their spirits and their voices. Conversations rose from the streets and entered our room unhindered.
I gave up trying to read and switched off the lamp. It had started to overheat the already uncomfortably warm quarters anyway.
I tried to find a comfortable position for my head, but the pillow, which felt just like a thick sofa cushion, was resistant. A whole hour passed as I lay eyes open, wondering just how easy it might be for an intruder to climb from balcony to balcony and enter the open patio door in our bathroom I dared not close it. The open door was our only source of ventilation. Opening the door behind my bed would only let in more noise, as if this were even possible. But it was too hot to sleep...and too loud.
You see, I´m already a light sleeper. Turning on a light or opening a door is enough to bring me all the way out of REM. Even before becoming a mother, it´s been like that. But tonight was different. Sleep couldn´t get a grip on me. The riotous sounds from the street prevented it.
The hours crawled by, punctuated by new noises. Motorcycles revved by, horns honked and curious knocks and bumps mixed with half-shouted conversations. Occasionally, bellows of raucous laughter echoed in the air.
I wanted to scream, but somebody outside was doing it for me.
That´s when I knew that not taking the time to look for a nicer hotel with quiet, elegant rooms had been a mistake... one I would pay for over and over again...all night.
Dawn came and finally, the noise died down. I could hardly believe that I´d been awake the entire night. I forced myself into fitful sleep around 7:00 am. We´d have to get up at 8:30 in order to catch the train to Toledo.
It was only after my eyes were closed that I began to see.
I only took up one small corner of the world. I existed in a tiny room in a hostal in Madrid. My sleepless night was luxurious compared to that of the homeless mother beneath me on the street. It was paled in comparison to those of the defeated and abused in war-ravaged countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. My fear shrank in the shadow of the terror so many others faced each night.
My experience was only a mild inconvenience in an otherwise fortunate existence. As the sun peered through the window and sleep let me go, I steeled myself up for another glorious, beautiful day. Another adventure.