Being Amaia

Everytime I take my newly acquired car, I feel like John Cusack in the 1999 movie ‘Being John Malkovich’. John found a door behind a file cabinet in an office which led him to the mind of John Malkovich. As he stepped through the door, he assumed John’s persona. I feel very much the same when I step into Amaia’s former car (or what’s left of it). The feel of the steering wheel, the smell of the car, its sound all remind me of Amaia. I can picture her giving me a lift to work, pulling crazily away on the wheel to make it turn (yes it’s that old… the car), I can nearly hear her pull up and park in front of our house.

Of course, thankfully, the car isn’t the only thing that reminds me of Amaia. In fact, if anything, the car is probably something I’d want to forget. It’s probably decreased my life expectancy by a good few years through induced stress and fearful situations. And it’s shedding parts, displaying its great autotomy ability.

Great Expectactions

– or how Ruben is not your typical Jamie Oliver –

When we moved in together, I hardly knew what to expect. Yes, she seemed a nice person in all respects. On a scale from 1 to candy machine, she scored well beyond Galaxy and Mars. But it’s one thing to get along with someone, and a whole different can of worms to live with that given person. And that didn’t only apply to Amaia. It was true of Amaia, Ruben and Juanlu.

March 2008 – A few weeks before the move, Amaia, Ruben, JuanLu came over to my place for a bit of dinner. Pizza was on the menu: after all if Spaniards and Frenchmen meet, they might as well have a bite of Italian. Ruben, wanting to be the handyman, took the pizzas out of their packaging and popped them into the oven. Unfortunately, much to our dismay, we realized a full ten minutes later that the pizza was piping hot and just rightly cooked but that the styrofoam Ruben had absent-mindedly forgotten to remove had blackened to a color that would have made the plague look a bit pale. This single act of kitchen vandalism struck Ruben off the list of ‘best cook housemate award of year’. With two candidates left, the competition seemed as healthy as deep-fried Fish ‘n Chips with extra scrappings.

Swedish Matches

April popped round the corner, the move was a dismal experience (and righfully deserves its own dedicated post later on). Eventually on a sunny Sunday afternoon drowned in football fans’ clamors from Portman Rd as Norwich City clashed with Ipswich Town, I swept one final time the wooden floor of my fourth-floor apartment. Amaia and Ruben came up for the last time, we checked all rooms were empty and we went out for a late lunch of burgers and salad (when some of us live of amour et eau fraîche, Ruben lives on salad).

Slowly, we started settling in, moving furniture, arranging our rooms, making ourselves cosy. I already a lot of furniture so my task was mainly to sift and throw rather than acquire new items. On the other hand, my Iberian fellow friends needed a few items: beds, shelves, curtains… Amaia being neat and meticulous, wanted to decorate her room to a standard she would be content with. And so started a long saga of furniture shopping. Not quite a saga. It was more like a love story, a passion, a yearning that called Amaia away from Ipswich for 4 or 5 weekends. It was so intense, so true, that she even took her parents one day to meeting the object of her desires, what caused her heart to flutter and to enter a mellow turmoil at first sight. Blond, big, Swedish. Who could resist? Yes, Amaia had fallen in love with IKEA, Sweden’s #1 furniture department store established worldwide and also in Essex selling prime quality furniture.

Ruben, JuanLu and I lost track of the many trips Amaia took down the A12 to go shop at IKEA. When someone asked where Amaia was, we’d shrug and answer, «probably at IKEA»…

to be continued… On the recognition of languages in national constitutions