My work week is four days, Monday through Thursday, and getting two of them off was impossible, especially the Wednesday and Thursday I wanted, at the beginning of March, coming as they did on the tail of the first two days of that week when the language school where I work was closed for carnival. I didn’t even ask my boss. I told my brother that attending his wedding ceremony was impossible. Not difficult, I made sure to emphasize, but plain impossible.
But then I realized attending the Thursday event in Madrid didn’t require both Wednesday and Thursday off, just Thursday, because I could take the night bus after work on Wednesday and make the wedding ceremony, at 1:00 on the next day. With the blessing of my boss and the help of my two co-workers to cover classes, that’s what I did, with a twinge of regret at breaking my perfect work record of never missing a class or arriving late.
The last time—and also the first time—I’d attended a civil wedding ceremony in Spain was in 2020, a scant three weeks before the country shut down for Covid. Rumors had been in the air, but in the third week of February of that year, no one wore masks, was fearful, or had any idea of what was to come. It wasn’t until the bride and groom, another couple of long standing, were already off on their Italian honeymoon that I realized they were in the eye of the advancing storm. They returned during the confusion of the first days of the crisis. Now, two years later, again in early spring, we were apparently coming out on the far side of that crisis. It was a fine time for celebration.
The wedding party was 10 people plus a baby, and all of us except the baby and her parents attended the ceremony in the Salón de Actos in the city hall of the neighborhood district. I had my phone out to take some pictures for my mother, and one of the city hall officials standing at the side gestured to me to slip around to the front for a better angle. I asked her how many people got married here, expecting an answer of hundreds a year, or dozens per month. She told me two couples a month could schedule a ceremony—one each on the first Thursday and Saturday of the month. That explained why my brother and his partner had chosen a Thursday, something I had wondered about.
I didn’t ask the woman why Thursday, or how the room was otherwise employed, or how she felt attending these ceremonies, or what her official role was or if a replacement would be required for her should she be taken ill or simply need the day off work for an important personal matter. Instead I snapped some pictures of my new sister and my brother, snapped some more outside in the splattering of rain, and then put my phone away and settled down to enjoy, Spanish style, first with drinks in the bar where the baby and her parents waited, then in the family-run restaurant in my brother and sister-in-law’s neighborhood. Spanish style? Long, leisurely, with lunch lasting from 2:30 to past 5:30. Three hours of eating? Rising from the lunch table nearer to six than to five? Impossible, right? Not at all! Right into the time for my first classes of the day, to which I gave nary a thought. No twinges of regret.
Permission required for reprinting, reproducing, or other uses.