I’ve had it. Can’t honestly be bothered making the effort anymore. Why, if it doesn’t get you anywhere? You try and build a life, placing each brick on top of the other so carefully – or each card, if we’re honest – and striving to stay strong. Ignoring the wind, telling yourself it won’t get you. Neither that nor the lightning.
Telling yourself that what you build you build to last.
But it’s hopeless. Hopeless. All we are is fluff on the breeze, surrounded by forces so much more powerful than we are. Disdained by the universe we inhabit, we float about blown this way and that, always on the lookout for the illusion that we can exercise just a little, just the tiniest occasional bit, of control.
That we can carve something out for ourselves. Act. Affect. Create. But we can’t even move; we are dust particles. It’s the world that moves around us, going about its impervious business. And the blur as it moves over us, infusing our senses with the fantasy, the seduction, the notion that we’re on our way. Somewhere between A and B. That there is a B. That there may be a Z.
But there is only A.
Atrophy, anguish, aloneness.
Alienation, anger, apathy.
Aching…you get the idea.
And every once and so often the universe deigns to show us that small mercy, to remind us of our futility. Our powerlessness. To let us at least know how tiny and inconsequential we are. Now and then it will reach into our lives, when we’re feeling safe, and untroubled and good, and take something from us. Just to make the point.
On this particular occasion, it’s my Certificado de Registrado de Ciudadano de la Unión, more commonly know as the NIE. It’s something you need as a foreigner in Spain and I can’t find the fucking thing anywhere. It’s a residency registery thingimajig. You need it to…, y’know, without it you wouldn’t be able to…thingies always ask for it at the…y’know. I might need it in the bank, or in a hospital, or whatever, and I intended to take it with us on our forthcoming trip, in case of emergencies.
I look for it where I always look for things-made-out-of-paper-that-I-am-likely-to-need-and-should-file-away-carefully-but-don’t, in the unsorted pile of things-made-out-of-paper-that-I-am-likely-to-need-and-should-file-away-carefully-but-don’t on the desk upstairs. It isn’t there, so I look in the other pile of things-made-out-of-paper-that-I-am-likely-to-need-and-should-file-away-carefully-but-don’t, also on the desk. It isn’t there either. Strange, I would have expected it to be in one of those two piles. That’s why I have them.
I spend the next forty minutes running up and down the stairs, checking the same five locations. Drawer, desk, folder, other drawer, other folder, drawer, other folder, folder, desk. Who was it who said insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? Or was it stupidity? Either way – it’s me. There’s a lot of sweat, and rage. Then, in a flash of inspiration, it hits me. I’ll skype K! She’s forty-six kilometers away, in another country in fact, and may be able to help….
The following is a transcript of the skype exchange:
[01/08/2012 11:45:36] A lot of wind: No NIE. It’s gone.
[01/08/2012 11:46:27] K: For fucks sake, alotofwind. You do this every time you need a document! It’s up there of course it is you just can’t see it. We’ll find it later.
[01/08/2012 11:47:06] A lot of wind : It isn’t. And now I can’t find my leather bag.
[01/08/2012 11:47:33] K: Your leather bag is up there in the office I moved it when I put the suitcase on the bed.
[01/08/2012 11:47:40] A lot of wind: Where in the office?
[01/08/2012 11:47:57] K: Jesus. On the chair.
[01/08/2012 11:49:52] A lot of wind: Not in there. The NIE is gone. I looked everywhere.
[01/08/2012 11:50:14] A lot of wind: I don’t want to travel in Spain without it.
[01/08/2012 11:51:04] K: I have neither the time nor the energy for this. The NIE is up there you just can’t find it. Stop this now. You have to start taking care of your stuff so that you can find it when you need it. If it’s gone you will have to travel without it and if you’re not coming, I’m going on my own.
[01/08/2012 12:05:38] A lot of wind: No, it’s definitely gone.
[01/08/2012 12:07:15] K: Alotofwind, seriously… what am I supposed to do about this?
[01/08/2012 12:07:27] A lot of wind: What will I do?
[01/08/2012 12:07:59] K: I suppose you will have to wait for me to come home and find it for you. As usual. Have you checked the coffee table drawer, just in case?
[01/08/2012 12:08:14] A lot of wind: It’s gone.
[01/08/2012 12:09:37] K: Stop it, you are having a tantrum!
[01/08/2012 12:24:14] A lot of wind: The law has changed since I got that, you know. The new ones expire every three months and have to be renewed in person
[01/08/2012 12:24:55] K: Honey, you haven’t lost the NIE but you do appear to be losing the plot.
[01/08/2012 12:25:13] A lot of wind: I have lost it, honey (the NIE, I mean). It’s gone. I’ve looked everywhere. Carefully. Gone.
[01/08/2012 12:26:22] K: You haven’t lost it.
[01/08/2012 12:26:48] A lot of wind: I have.
[01/08/2012 12:28:05] K: This conversation is pointless.
[01/08/2012 15:01:52] K: I don’t know what you’re stressing about because I’ll obviously come home and find your NIE for you.
[01/08/2012 15:02:09] A lot of wind: No, you won’t. Because it’s gone.
That evening, and a couple of purely medicinal pints later, K is waving my NIE form in my face, having gone upstairs and returned with it in roughly the time it would take to go upstairs, and return.
“Maybe I should have timed you,” I say. “That has to be a record.”
“You’re a tit,” she replies.
I fall into her arms, burying my face in her neck.
She pats my back.
I don’t care; I’ve got my NIE back. You can’t keep a good man down, can you?
The indomitable human spirit. On my way again.
Brilliant, bright, buoyant.
Blissful…you get the idea…Follow @RobinJGraham