Chameleon Chapter 2 - The Libreta

I bet you are thinking I should have started with a story titled – “Being a chameleon” but I’m not and the only reason is that I’m not.  Maybe because I’ve been working on bucking convention, maybe it’s because I realized it after I had written the other title.  We’ll just never know.

I am in Valencia on a whim.  I decided to travel here from Barcelona only a few days before.  One of my intentions for going was to purposefully have no agenda.  To rent a place of my own to give myself the space to just think.  To try and process all of the things that I’ve done and the things that have happened to me over the past few months and to take some time for reflection – maybe to write.  But to write I would need a new notebook.  My journal notebook is almost completely filled and I want to start a new thing – a reflection thing.  I envision a book of short stories that can assist me in the reflection process.  I am afraid if I travel home without this time, the excitement of being home will distract me from adequate reflection – I’m really good at letting excitement distract me.  And I can feel myself craving brain space – moments alone to be lost in thought.  So after some hemming and hawing, I booked a place – and now here I am... but I still need a notebook. 

So this need for a new notebook has been at the back of my mind for a while – big thoughts, ya know? And I’ve been keeping an eye out.  Even when I tell myself that it doesn’t matter how or where you write, just to write, I at least need some paper.  And one of the most hilariously frustrating things about being in another country is learning how things are organized/where things are sold.  Even in a place like Spain – office and/or school supply stores aren’t around many corners and the majority of grocery stores really just sell exclusively food products.  My next thought was to go to a bookstore – I found some artsy bookstores with a couple of cool, yet impractical notebooks.  As anyone who knows me can attest to – I need some lines on my pages or things get very confusing very quickly.  Farmacias certainly didn’t have any notebooks – As an aside, most of the farmacias also have very limited supplies of nail polish, if any.  For nailpolish, your best bet is to go to a supermercado (but not just a tiny mercado) but not on Sundays because all of the supermercados are closed or to find a “tienda China” apparently they have everything but I found them to be quite illusive – I digress, but you get the picture.  There were obvious Spanish rules for buying standard items that I just can’t seem to pick up on – despite my most earnest efforts. 

One of the activities that I enjoy while traveling is giving myself really simple tasks for the day, like buying fruit or finding a rental bike, or do something to treat yourself – and then feel very accomplished at the end of the day regardless.  So today was the libreta day and I wasn’t going to let the lack of options in the first three stores deter me.  At every place I went, they kept telling me to go to a papelería, but couldn’t tell me where the closest one was.  So eventually I walked into this alternative, graphic t-shirt store with no one visible at the front desk to escape the heat and try to ask someone else.  A middle-aged man walks out of the back wearing a Che Guevara shirt.  I ask, him if they have lined notebooks.  He says no, only small notebooks to use as gifts. But then he asks what I need it for.  I tell him I’m just trying to write some things down.  He says, I may have one for you, and heads into the back again.  He brings out a package of loose leaf paper and then a hard cover binder – which I explain will be difficult to travel with.  Then he goes back again and brings out the most perfect notebook – and better than just horizontal lines, it’s graph paper to keep my handwriting even more in-check! We then proceed to spend the next 45 minutes talking global politics while I intermittently considered buying a 35 euro t-shirt with an artistic Frida face and/or a feminist hand with the female symbol inside – both of which I wanted but just couldn’t justify the cost. 

So there is the story of the libreta – a whole lot of nothing to tell you that I got the notebook as a gift from a man in a t-shirt store who I talked politics with.  I guess I could have told a much shorter story…