Day 8: Laundry Day and Hard Decisions

by Eli Hodapp

When I’m traveling, it usually takes about a week for some level of home sickness to set in. Normally it’s pretty mild, and mostly amounts to “Ugh, I know I’d have such an incredible time if _____ was here to go to this _____ with me,” as I discover cool things that I know even my most insulated American friends and family would love. For instance, those bars last night in the Gothic quarter, as well as the whole Gothic quarter itself. You can’t not love that area, I really don’t think it’s possible. It’d be so much fun to have even a single wingman in those sorts of places.

So, combine this typical home sickness with recent developments in my father’s failing health, and it’s really hard for me to want to be here anymore. What complicates things even further with my Dad’s cancer issues is that my parents are essentially starving artists, and flat out cannot afford any of the care my Dad needs at a normal hospital. They’re absolutely pigeon holed into going to Stroger Hospital in downtown Chicago, as that’s the only place the public benefits system they managed to weasel their ways into works.

I feel terrible for even suggesting that my parents head down to Florida. It seemed like a good idea, and I really can’t beat myself too much up over it, but my Dad was being totally wishy washy about the whole thing before I tipped them over the edge of actually going. I know, with the utmost certainty, had I been like, “I don’t know guys, that sounds dicey,” they would’ve stayed home- At which point it would’ve been a simple hour long drive down to the city where my Dad could get all the care he’d ever need and more. My Dad’s mental state was terrible back at home, and I figured a beach would improve that. I didn’t plan into him being too sick to even see the stupid beach.

Today has been decent, other than that. The people I’m living with are remarkably friendly and welcoming, so when I was bumming around this afternoon Jonathan originally intended on taking me out for some beers. However, since we’re apparently in the offseason now, all the beach side bars he wanted to take me to were closed. So, instead, we drank some Heinekens on our terrace in the sun. I’m not sure if the bar would have been better or not, but the terrace always is great.

I also did laundry here finally. No one in Barcelona has a clothes dryer, so when you do your laundry you put it through the washing machine then hang it out on a line. Once the sun hits it, things dry really quickly. I’ve been told the reasoning for this is both because space is at a premium and utilities are expensive, while the sun is free. I was really worried that my clothes were going to blow away, but they managed to stay on the line and dry to completion without issue.

Tonight Samaneh is cooking dinner, then we’re going out to watch the Barcelona vs Madrid soccer match, which I’ve been told is one of the biggest sports events outside of Barcelona actually being in the world cup. We’re just going to a local tapas bar, which should be awesome. I asked about buying tickets to just go see the match live, but I guess that tickets for this game is in such demand that scalpers can demand hundreds of Euros for a ticket that’d normally cost you €15 or so.

That should be fun. I’m not really sure I’ve ever watched a full soccer game, so that’ll be something new.

So, anyway, I’ve got no idea if I should be buying tickets to fly home, or just soldier on with my stay in Barcelona. I’ve told my parents to fly home immediately, and get my Dad into his hospital directly from the airport. From there, I guess I’ll be able to evaluate whether or not to go home. It seems likely that with some proper care, the right IV drips to get some fluids in him, and actual hospitalization he could bounce back just like other cancer patients I’ve known who have gone through similar things.

The logistics of flying home short notice internationally sort of makes my head hurt. My normal flight to get home from Barcelona is actually via Air France, which flies out of Marseille. I could probably get those tickets changed, or at least, some of the money credited towards new tickets, but it’d probably need to be via Air France… which seems to be the most expensive airline by far. If I want to fly home tomorrow, for instance, it’ll cost me $3,000.

I’m really not sure what to do. It’s a lot of money, but at the end of the day, it’s only money. I can make more. I can’t make more time with my Dad.

It’s a hard decision either way, and I’m really at a loss as to what the right choice is. All I know is I’m starting to regret coming here, and knowing the state of things back home, it’s going to be really hard to enjoy myself until I get back.