I am sitting in an Ibis Hotel on the outskirts of Madrid. The address that Maria had given me is only a 20 minute walk away (at least according to Google Maps – by taxi, it would take me 7 minutes …). And yet everything looks and feels like I am not going to see her tonight.
Here is what happened: last week, we talked briefly on the phone and more extensively via chat. It must have been late on Thursday night. She was extremely sweet, and seemed rather upset because her planned trip back to Europe (she was in South America then) was delayed yet again to Sunday, because of a volcano eruption in Chile. It meant that she wouldn’t be in Madrid when I was supposed to be there. She knew that I had been planning my weekend to see her, and seemed very upset that she couldn’t be here. I was disappointed, too, but then we figured out that we would have a chance to meet on Tuesday night (i.e. this evening). The plan was made, she gave me her address and seemed genuinely happy that this was working out after all.
I gave a presentation at a workshop in Hamburg on Friday, came back home, went to see a music performance project that Drew was organising, and then went to bed fairly early to catch a really early plane on Saturday morning. I knew that I wasn’t going to see Maria, so I prepared for a weekend on my own in Madrid. It was quite a pleasant experience – I easily found the hotel that I had reserved for a night, it was nice and clean, and fairly centrally. When I got there, I left a little note on Maria’s Facebook page, with greetings from Madrid. The hotel was close to the large central park in Madrid, and after dropping my stuff off at the hotel, I went for a walk through the park, which I really enjoyed. I then crossed over into the central part of the city, had a late lunch at an Italian restaurant, kept walking to the central squares Porta del Sol and Plaza Mayor, found the tourism information – where a Russian woman (!) behind the counter told me that Los Lobos were playing in Madrid that night. I found a ticket place, got a ticket, walked back to the hotel, had a nap, returned to the city with the metro again (I really like the Madrid metro), had a bite to eat right next to Sala Heineken where the concert was. Then I quite enjoyed the concert, and took a long walk back to the hotel. On Sunday, I worked in the park for a couple of hours, ended up in the middle of a massive demonstration on the Paseo del Prado, kept walking, had lunch in the restaurant on the top of Caixa Forum, tried to get into the Reina Sofia (to see Guernica, but it’s closed on Sunday afternoons …), ended up sitting at the train station for a while and then got onto my train to Barcelona. I arrived in Barcelona right around the time Maria was supposed to be back in Madrid.
The next morning, I went to our Spanish office with the colleague who I was staying with. I worked with the colleagues, sent Maria another note through the Facebook message system, asking whether we were still on for Tuesday night, and spent the day working. All this time, no word from her. At some point I had seen that she had “liked” my little Facebook comment. But nothing else. No confirmation, no cancellation. No response to my Facebook mail. Today, two colleagues and I went to Madrid by train, we had a client meeting at 4 PM this afternoon. Shortly before that, I tried to call her. No answer. After the meeting, just now, I tried to call her, too. Again no answer. Now I am sitting here, a stone’s throw away from where she lives, and I feel very much like a fool. I spent these past couple of days checking online activity of hers – as far as one can tell: is she posting stuff? If so, what type of stuff? Something that tells me she is back in Europe? Or not? On the channels we used to chat, she seems totally absent. “Not available.” Sometimes I see that she has changed her profile photo, though. It feels almost like, all of a sudden, she is making fun of me?
I know how they say: “No one knows you’re a dog on the Internet.” So it’s really stupid to rely on anything people say on the web – as long as you don’t really know who they are. But particularly last week, there seemed to be a lot of commitment in what she was saying and writing. I was happy about that, and looking forward to this. Something that seemed to be mutual. I was coming out of my splendid isolation of being happy on my own, and was really keen on meeting someone, someone who seemed so interesting. And who seemed to see something interesting in me.
And when that realisation creeps in, slowly but steadily, that things are not going to happen the way they were supposed to be, it’s just a really annoying painful and, ultimately, sad thing. And now I am sitting here in my hotel, not quite knowing what to do. It’s 8 PM. I could take a shower and try calling again? But I feel silly calling again. I tried twice. I could go for a walk and check out if she even lives where she told me. If that was nonsense, it would make things easy – then I know that I was being led on. But really, it’s kind of creepy to be loafing around someone’s house without even really knowing them.
As a strange coincidence, our meeting today was quite close to her place, and so is the airport tomorrow, so I am not even going out of my way to see her. Coming to Madrid last weekend was more of a hassle, and more of an effort – one that I probably wouldn’t have made if it hadn’t been for the plan to meet up with her.
Regardless, I am upset. And still don’t know what to do.
Update: I happened to find her on Twitter … turns out: she tried to email me, but the email didn’t go through. She’s still stuck in South America … Oh boy. We had another sweet exchange on chat. Postponed.