22 January 2011

My Greatest Fear


Before I round the corner of Camino de Ronda, I see the plumes of smoke climb into the Andalusian sky, and I smell burning Spanish leather. As I cross the street, I see the apartment building on fire, and Pepita clutching Natalia outside of the sidewalk, looking at me with fierce anger. The gas station down the street will explode at any moment. People are screaming, crying, searching for their loved ones, and with quivering bowels, I think to myself, “Shit. I left the space heater on.”
Apartments in Spain don’t have central heating because it’s apparently stifling hot in the summer, so returning to class to find my apartment building on fire is my greatest fear. There’s a little stove that fits under the table to warm your feet while you eat dinner, and there is a space heater in my room so I don’t develop any illnesses or lose toes in the nighttime por el frio. As soon as I arrived to my first class last week, my tummy fluttered with dread, : surely, I had forgotten to turn off my space heater. I was convinced that when I returned home from class, a scene like that described in the first paragraph would greet me, and I would be jailed, kicked out of school, responsible for third-degree burns and possibly a couple deaths, and taken away from Spain, never to live with another host family again. I would make international news and shame whatever glory Darren Criss, Lucy Liu, and James Earl Jones brought to the University of Michigan combined. I would be put in an asylum and be forced to wear a straight jacket in a room without a thermostat so I couldn’t burn anything else. I would never be allowed in a national park because I may start forest fires. I would not be welcome in any Yankee Candle establishment, Gas station, bookstore, or firework vender. (Though honestly, I wouldn’t have a problem with being banned from any of those places, save for the bookstore.) This fear has propelled me to become obsessed with unplugging the space heater (and all other electronics, for that matter) as soon as I turn it off. This act of responsibility is unprecedented. I’m a changed human. Aren’t you proud?

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