Asturias Days


By Clellan Coe | January 9, 2020
Alden Jewell/Flickr
Alden Jewell/Flickr

When English classes started up in the fall, I decided to leave 15 minutes earlier for work each day than I had the previous school year, and it made me a happier person. I was surprised: I’d thought that my previous rush to arrive 45 minutes early would be the same, only now I’d rush to arrive an hour before classes started. Instead, I’m calm now, even relaxed, as I glide along, and it’s as if the car were driving itself.

I used to feel very differently—squeezed or rushed as I maneuvered my car through a tight spot caused by a double-parked vehicle or I urged it around a corner before a light changed. Or sometimes as the light changed, just like most other drivers. No one is patient behind the wheel, not even the domingueros, the Sunday drivers, people who drive as if every day were a weekend. They go at a snail’s pace, perhaps the better to admire their day, perhaps to let the world admire the polish of their vehicle. They are in no hurry, but should you toot to remind them of a light that’s changed to green, then they’ll glare through the rearview mirror, as impatient with your haste as you are with their stately progress.

Not only am I driving slower, but I react more slowly to other drivers, both the domingueros and those who drive as if in a race, zipping in and out, surging ahead to gain a car’s length, switching lanes five times in 50 yards. Instead of the old incredulity at the choices of fellow drivers, I in my hovercar feel buffered from their mundane worries and pretensions, as if I were looking at a diorama behind glass—a distant time or place. Even the kids, with their risky behavior as pedestrians, no longer bother me. My route takes me past a high school, and I used to go by just as class let out for the day. I’d slow in case anyone was crossing at the crosswalk, but I’d also be prepared to stop for a kid who’d sprung out between two cars to cross in the middle of the street. “Foolish, foolish!” I used to think, braking. But now I advance as if on a car safari to observe the wildlife. And when the wildlife lopes by outside my window, I smile to see it. Look at this one, I think, look at that one. Some are lone, some in small groups, some keeping to cover, some venturing into the open, a few tugging a laughing companion after them into the street.

I slow to give them plenty of room. I don’t honk, I don’t curse, I don’t even roll my eyes as I ease by. Would you at the weather? The landscape? No, nor at any other natural phenomenon, existing for a short while, evolving beyond your influence, bound to alter, to adapt. They’ll eventually even settle down somewhat. But I can’t let that stop me, and when classes resumed this week after the Christmas holiday, I resumed practicing calm.

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