The train takes five hours from Madrid to Castellon. I hate Madrid. I am glad to be rid of it. I feel free. I course through olive trees and rocky, sepia colored cliffs. Then orange trees. Then lush green palms and eucalyptus, stopping once in Valencia and then on to Castellon. Everything we own is packed into four suitcases that a stranger helps me unload and roll toward a taxi. I am alive with excitement and hope. I will have my baby in Castellon. I will live by the sea. I. Me. We will live by the sea. Just to say that and really mean it sounds safe and pure and old. As if nothing could touch us here. Protected by the flat line of crumbled walls and moats around the city. And the watchful eyes of the Virgin of Lledó.
We will actually have money now too. I have calculated it a hundred times. 80,000 pesetas for the rent, 40,000 for food, 50,000 for utilities, 10,000 for spending. We can go out to eat now. I can get my hair done. We don’t have to wait Marie Carmen to bring us leftovers. Old furniture. Broken furniture. Just so that we can sit at a table with four chairs.
I tip the driver a few pesetas and I meet R at the Hotel Castellon, a few blocks from the station. He’s already arrived en coche with Gisela, his co-worker. They are having beers in the lobby. Together, they will man the Unix systems of BP, British Petroleum’s corporate office in all of the Costa Azahar. I bring the luggage in, piece by piece to the desk and sit beside my husband on one of the sofas. The waiter asks if I’d like to try a horchata de chufas. I say, “por favor,” and stretch out my legs.
I can smell the sea but I cannot see it.