2018-11-19 15:00 — Donostia
It was already on Sunday that I saw him for the first time, a day after my arrival in Pasaia. The morning sky was dark, full of thick and heavy clouds. There was still no one on the square beneath my window, the chairs waiting, sitting one on top of the other at the ends of restaurants, metallic tables glistening in the light of the few sunrays that brushed them on their westward-bound way. I opened the wooden balcony door wide, smelled the fresh salty air, and went for a shower. As I stepped back into the living room wrapped in a long towel, he was there, staring at me. With confidence and curiosity, no shyness whatsoever. "Well, what, how did you get in here?" I exclaimed, slightly bewildered, caught in an unexpected situation. "Shoo, get out, shoo!" Darn, how do you say that in Spanish? The visitor barely moved. No, I'm not going to hit him, no, "shoo, get out, right this second!" I shouted. Only then, as the intensity of my voice grew, was he startled. He turned around and slowly lumbered off towards the balcony, as if he was trying to tell me, hey what do you want, I'm the one who's always here, you're the new kid. Completely black, so that I could not even make out his eyes in the semidarkness, he stepped over the balcony doorstep, turned his head in my direction, and meowed. "I just came to say hello. And you were so rude and cold to me. I really don't get you," he yelped, and jumped on the railing. He stood there for another second or two, and –as if I didn't exist, as if our encounter never happened– looked to the left and the right and then to the square beneath him before disappearing. Well, that's a good one, I thought to myself, I had no idea I had a roommate, and one with no manners at that.
With no haste I got dressed, left the room, and within minutes I had forgotten about him completely. The ocean pounded against the cliffs, its force causing the mighty rocks to crumble in the frothy waters. A misty fog sprayed over the two lighthouses marking the entrance into the bay, disappearing for a couple of minutes, only to return thicker than before. One, two, three, this is how we count the big waves, the locals from Pasaia told me. Then smaller ones follow. One, two, three ... I could count them all day long, it is so soothing. A shawl was keeping my neck warm and a light jacket was enough to keep the windy embrace from the sea pleasant and not too intrusive. One, two, three ... the waltz! In the distance I saw a woman with an umbrella striding at a fast pace along that forbidden path, where the rocks were crumbling off. Well then, I suppose it's not off limits after all, I thought to myself, and slowly headed in that direction. First, a narrow path through a wild bushy area, then up on a ridge and then ahead, in the warm wind, all the way to the narrow stairsteps carved into the stone, but unfortunately, some two meters away from the rocky slopes. How am I supposed to get down here, with no support? I think I can make it; if the woman with the spring in her step could do it, so can I. But, where did she vanish? I stopped at the top of the staircase. I counted only four steps heading towards the bottom, that is, towards the next upward slope, when all of a sudden I could not move anymore. My thirst for the unknown, however inviting, was challenged by my fear of falling and the scenario of locals finding me, a foreigner, injured only a day after my arrival. To do it or not to do it? People must walk here all the time without falling off the rocks... I was trying to perk myself up. One deep breath, four steep stone-carved steps, and then descent. Down to the next five steps leading back uphill, which seemed safer. And the ensuing reward: a view of the vast blue horizon, the crashing of the ocean waves against the weatherworn rocks, freedom.
The following morning I opened the balcony door again. I let the new day pour inside the tight apartment space, made some coffee, and went back to bed. The circulating air was dry, fresh, brand-new, awakening. Suddenly I was roused by the Meow. He was standing next to the bed, only inches away from my head, greeting me. Of course, I wasn't expecting him, the whole magic of the idea of caressing a fluffy curled up ball in my arms was replaced by the shock upon the intrusion into my privacy and the audacity and curiosity, which I suddenly could not empathize with. "Shoo, shoo, go on, get out," I yelled at him loudly and he slowly waddled off in the direction of the window. "Have it your way," he said, "if you have no appreciation for sincere curiosity or this kind of welcome, I won't be back." I closed the door behind him, got angry about having to close the shutters and windows in order to ensure privacy, and returned to bed.
He has not come back since. I can hear him, meowing on his morning walks across the neighboring balconies. I keep the doors wide open, but he doesn't come in. When I see him now and then at the neighbors', he turns his head the other way and continues to clean himself. I don't know why, but now I feel guilty and I wish the moment we first met would return. Perhaps this time it would be different.