An Excerpt from Guadalupe Nettel’s “Life Someplace Else”

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The rest of my time—that is, the hours in which I was not dedicated to spying—seemed unimportant to me. My own life was comparable to the television commercials that interrupt a gripping movie. There was nothing I could do about it, except patiently bear it. Alina started making ironic remarks, saying I was somewhere else lately. But I always spoke to her about my professional conflict. Thursday morning, when I walked outside to get on the metro, I was almost mowed down by a garbage truck, and those never go fast. I told myself my wife was right: I had to stop with the nonsense and concentrate on my work. But I wasn’t entirely sold on this, just as I wasn’t sold on living on a street of bureaucrats and immigrants and full of dog shit, or on there being graffiti on the metro walls. I wasn’t sold on the extremely Barcelonian accents of all of my coworkers, nor on the taste of the cortado at the corner bar. Our neighborhood wasn’t bad, the building wasn’t bad, the apartment wasn’t either, but no matter how much I looked around me, I couldn’t find anything good. Life seemed unfair to me in every aspect. As a professional actor, I was able to feign the same conformism shown by my neighbors, but I kept asking myself in what year or at which mile had I gotten off the highway bound for the destiny I believed I was meant to have, or else, what turn I should have taken to not end up on this high-speed avenue headed toward the frustrated parks of isolation. My intuition told me something good was waiting for me in the apartment we hadn’t rented. Something unusual and invigorating, like a fresh start after years of unhappiness.

As the days passed, I was no longer satisfied with the role of the onlooker and the carefulness started to become unbearable. I wanted to speak to the woman, earn her trust and get her to invite me into her home. I couldn’t wait any more and on Friday morning I decided to catch her at the café in la Virreina.

It was the kind of sunny winter morning when it isn’t too cold out and it’s nice to sit outside on a terrace. She took off her coat and ordered a coffee. Sitting a few tables away, I felt how my heart started beating faster. Nonetheless, I threw the question out naturally:

“You went to the School of Theater, right?”

The tenant looked up. Her blue eyes locked on me for a few seconds.

“Not me,” the woman responded with a foreign accent I didn’t recognize. “But my husband did go there.”

We talked for a few minutes. She told me she was Danish and had studied scenography in Copenhagen before deciding to move to Barcelona to marry a man who was an actor. Before she uttered her husband’s last name I realized I was speaking to the wife of Mestre.

“Don’t tell me you’re married to Xavi, Eugenio Barba’s disciple,” I said with affected admiration.

Read the rest of this story in our Nemesis issue.

Image: Watched by Hannah Höch