You know that old saying ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade?’ Well sometimes life does, indeed, give you lemons, sometimes it even hands you a freshly squeezed lemonade with a little umbrella straw. Other times though, it gives you rocks instead of lemons and instead of handing them to you, it pelts them at you while giggling like an immature child. Unfortunately for me, life has picked me for target practice these last couple of days and has proceeded to bombard me with a shower of lemon-shaped rocks.
It all began yesterday (a Thursday for those who aren’t up to speed with the calendar). It was a Spanish holiday so there wasn’t any school and all of my friends had gone to go traveling over the long weekend (I elected to stay behind so I could hopefully play in my first volleyball game on Saturday). I woke up Thursday morning completely stuffed. I couldn’t breath out of my nose and phlegm wads were ensconcing themselves comfortably in the depths of my throat (who knew something so gross could be described so poetically?). Needless to say, I did not feel my best at that moment. Nevertheless, I got up, persevered, and went to the gym (I’m really proud of myself for that btw). When I got back, I was exhausted so I basically spent the day on the sofa doing absolutely nothing.
At around 9:00 pm, I finally stopped watching YouTube videos and eating cold pasta long enough to call Siubhan, (a.k.a. my number 1 home skillet) back in Illinois. We talked until she had to go to class then I watched a couple more movies and tried to go to bed. Not being able to breathe made falling asleep pretty hard, but the worst part was my hair. For some reason my head itched like the dickens.
After a good thirty minutes of restlessness and scratching, it slowly dawned on me that I had felt the exact same itchiness once before…in sixth grade…when the school had an outbreak of….wait for it… lice! Shit. I tried to remember when exactly my head had started itching but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like it had been itchy for a while. The only place I think I could have gotten it was from sharing hairbands during practice on the volleyball team.
Once the idea of lice was in my head there was no way in hell I was going back to sleep. I knew no pharmacy would be open so late, otherwise I would have run down there and bought every bottle of lice shampoo they had. Instead, I frantically searched the Internet scouring for any homemade treatments I could use as a substitute.
I finally found a simple hair mask recipe involving coconut oil. I began scooping copious amounts onto my head. I was a tad overzealous with it, however, because when I stood up to find a shower cap, the coconut jar spilled all around my feet. Not really caring, I jump over the gelatinous mess, shoved a make-shift, plastic-bag shower cap on my head, and set the timer for two hours.
Waiting was horrible. I could feel the little critters crawling around in my hair. When the two hours were up I took a hot shower, vigorously washing my hair, got out, and inspected the bath water. And sure enough, I found one. It wasn’t moving or anything, but I could see its tiny little legs. Throughly freaked out by this point, I ran back to my room to start tearing off the bedsheets, trying to resist the urge to scream and/or light my hair on fire. In my panic, I failed to see the giant glob of coconut oil on the floor. I fell. HARD.
Now, my friends, as impossible as this may seem, all of Thursday night was just a light drizzle of lemon-rocks, the real storm came today.
My host mom heard me fall and came into my room at 5:00 in the morning to find numerous garbage bags sitting on a completely naked mattress. She asked me what I was doing and I, almost ready to cry, told her that I had lice (fun fact: lice=piojos in Spanish). I honestly wasn’t sure how she was going to react. There’s an old (and completely untrue) stigma that only dirty people get lice. Would she accuse me of infesting her house and kick me out into the streets?! (in my sleep-deprived brain that seemed entirely conceivable). But, she took it surprisingly well and told me to calm down. Lice aren’t fatal and they’re a lot easier to deal with than bedbugs. After making sure I wasn’t having a complete meltdown, she headed back to her room and I fell asleep at my desk.
I awoke several hours later and my cold had gotten even worse. Now, along with a stuffed nose and aching head, was an inability to speak without, wait for it, hacking a phlegm ball (I know- my sexiness surprises even me sometimes). On top of that, I had bruised my leg pretty badly thanks to the coconut oil.
After a dismal day at school, all I wanted to do was shave my head, kill anything still crawling on my skin, and then sleep for an eternity. But I couldn’t. My host mom reminded me that we needed heat to get rid of the lice on my clothes and since she didn’t have a dryer (most people in Spain hang there clothes out to dry), she gave me directions to the nearest laundromat.
So I headed to the the laundromat, 20 euros in my pocket, a giant garbage bag full of all my clothes in each hand, stopping every so often to discreetly disposed of the phlegm in my throat. It took me a good thirty-five minutes to find the laundromat, and by that time my arms were pretty tired. The only person in the laundromat was an older gentleman, closing his eyes and listening to some music.
I loaded my clothes into the washer and sat down to wait. Unfortunately, right after my clothes were completely soaked, I realized that I didn’t have enough money for the dryers, which was the the reason I had come to the laundromat in the first place.
I was in luck, however, because right then I spotted an ATM across the street. I ran over, trying to keep an eye on my clothes through the laundromat window. But, much to my surprise, my PIN number didn’t work. I tried multiple times and finally called my dad for help. Apparently, because I had tried and failed to withdraw cash so many times, my card had been locked for 24 hours. Perfect.
I had no other choice than to drag two garbage bags, now filled with wet clothes, thirty- five minutes back to my apartment, pick up my emergency cash, and then return to the laundromat and put everything in the dryer. That was just a little overwhelming for me (did I mention I was also on my period and thus more emotionally fragile than usual?) and I started tearing up.
What all this leads to is the following scene: I’m walking down the street, pissed off, tired, walking with a slight limp, dragging two wet garbage bags behind me, about to cry, when I see a grocery store that might sell lice shampoo. I head inside with my garbage bags only to discover that they don’t sell lice shampoo after all.
Dejected, I turn to go, but as I’m leaving the store, the lady at the cash register starts yelling at me. I turn around to see her running towards me, and in my sleep-deprived brain it seemed only logical to start running too.
She yells quite loudly behind me, but my exhausted brain can’t understand her Spanish. As we run through the streets, more and more people start coming outside to see what the shouting is about. It must’ve looked strange; a cashier chasing down an apparently deaf thief with two trash bags slung over either shoulder.
It didn’t take long for the cashier to catch up to me. She grabbed one of my trash bags and ripped it open. When she saw a pile of wet clothes and bed covers she looked confused and then turned bright red and apologized to me. I opened my mouth to tell her it was fine, and instead of words, I got a mouthful of phlegm. Unable to spit it out without the crowd around us seeing, I could only nod and kind of hum my lips together.
I would like to say that was the end of my horrible weekend, but the following day I played so badly in the volleyball game that I was benched the entire second game. In fact, at one point, I think te other team might have been cheering for me.
So yeah…I hope you had a better weekend than I did.
*Author note: originally I wasn’t going to post this because it seemed kind of gross and sad, but if I talk about the wonders and beauty of traveling and being in Spain, I think it’s only right that I mention some of the not so fun parts as well.