I open the door to our terrace trying to figure out if I need a coat at this hour of the day. I love that I live in a place where this is a valid question in February.
Deciding it may get chilly as the sun is on it’s way down, I put on my shoes and coat and leave my apartment, locking the door behind me.
I glance at the time on my phone. Four minutes. Just the right amount of time to descend the five flights of stairs and walk the 100 steps from my front door to the location where I meet my Spanish language partner every Thursday. (Our building has an elevator, but it takes just about the same time to walk down. . . )
I get to the last few stairs and see the freshly poured concrete. Uh-oh.
Across the small concrete expanse, standing just outside the open front door, are the three men who’ve been working in our foyer since this morning (jack hammering began around 9:30–there are so many days I appreciate that life starts later in this country).
“No puedo ir?” I ask. I can’t go? Though I already know the answer.
The largest of the three men looks at me with pity. The other two workers look at him.
“No es necessario,” I say. “Quantos ahoras?” How many hours? I’m happy enough I can get some Spanish out. I make no promises for the sense it may or may not make. How many hours for cement to dry? Really, Rebecca? Clearly this will be more than a few hours!
“A las seis?” the man says, uncertain. He points to the foyer and says some things that I take to mean they will have some sort of cover for us to walk over the cement by 6p.m. I imagine that’s the end of their work day.
He apologizes and I respond with, “No pasa nada.” This is the Spanish equivalent of “no big deal.” Literal translation: nothing happens. Yep. Nothing happening for me outside my door for the next couple hours. No big deal.
I walk back up to the fifth floor (which, here in Spain, is actually called the fourth floor, but that’s a story for another day). The elevator wasn’t accessible due to the aforementioned wet concrete. And anyway, my goal is to walk up our stairs at least once per day. I had already reached that goal for today. . . but I could certainly do with some more exercise!
I call my language partner. We usually speak Spanish for anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour and then switch to English for the same amount of time.
“Tengo una problema.” I begin in Spanish but don’t have the words for “foyer” or “cement” so I switch to English.
“No te preocupes, Rebecca,” he tells me. This is Spanish for, “Don’t worry your pretty little head.” Literal translation: do not worry. He says this to me anytime I text him that I’ll be 5 minutes late. And when I arrive and apologize to him he says it again. Over the months we have known each other, he has done an excellent job of reinforcing, through his words and actions, that much of life is not to be worried about. He has two teenagers. He worries about them. But other than that? No pasa nada.
He laughs at my predicament. I switch back to Spanish. “Lo siento,” I say. I’m sorry. “No te preocupes,” he says again and explains something about his car and the bus which I don’t understand. But I do get that we can reschedule or just meet at our usual time next week. In Spanish, we make plans for Monday.
Realizing I’ve gained a couple hours, I think of my to-do list. But then I think, “Eh. No pasa nada.” I sit on the couch and while the time away writing a blog post.