A big red sun was climbing the sky, shining through a thin layer of clouds. The rain drops of last night were still covering the streets like a wet film, reflecting the sunbeams in all colors of the rainbow. Morning had come and I was smoking my first cigarette of the day, looking through the garage window. Later that day I would be having an interview at a school in de south of the city, for a position as an English teacher. I looked into the cup of fresh made coffee and took a sip. These two things were the main part of my daily routine of waking up; coffee and a cigarette. It’s a nasty habit, I know. The cigarette, I mean.
Natasha’s parents wanted to make me believe that drinking coffee is also bad for my health, because it damages the bone structure. I admit that drinking too much coffee is indeed bad for my health, but her parents wanted to make me believe that drinking any amount of coffee is bad.
After smoking my cigarette I went back inside, up the stairs to get ready for the interview. Natasha was lying naked and half asleep, listening to some music on her tablet. So I told her to hurry and get ready, since she knew where the school was located and for that reason had to join me. The school was located in the utter southeast of the city, near a metro station on line twelve, but I did not know how to get there; Natasha had looked it up for me.
More than an hour later, she was finally ready and we left her parents’ house where she and I lived – without her parents knowing because we hardly had any contact with them. Natasha did not want that contact anymore, and I did not care that much about it. As long as we had a roof over our heads and enough to eat, I was satisfied with what little we had. That little bit consisted of a large dining table, six chairs, a small side table, a plastic table and two mattresses; one single and one double, of considerable thickness.
We walked to the main road where we could take a bus to the metro station. From there we first had to travel to the city to then move on to another metro line that would bring us to the south. Almost at the end of the second metro line we had to move again to the southeast, where we had to get off about half way. From there it was only a few minutes walk to the office of the school where we needed to be.
Natasha would be waiting outside until I finished the conversation. I went to the office and asked for the training coordinator who would be conducting the interview. Of course I brought my CV, which I handed to him at the beginning of the interview. Initially he started to talk to me in Spanish, but when I said I was still learning Spanish, he switched almost effortlessly to English, with a heavy American accent. Volatile he studied the CV, and noticed that I spoke quite a lot of languages. Why I necessarily had chosen to teach in this school, he wanted to know; after all there were schools everywhere in the city, all of which would have a a good use of a teacher so eloquently as me. I replied that this school was one of the few who had placed an advertisement and actively looking for new teachers. He asked me if I wanted to work there rather in the southeast or rather closer to home. Indeed there were at least two or three branches of the same school almost around the corner of my home. I replied that it did not matter as much to me as long as I could share my knowledge. Then he told me that the function in this branch was designed for beginning teachers, and that he could give only six hours a week, on Saturdays. Again I respopnded in an – in my view – appropriate manner by stating that six hours was better than no hours at all. After talking about a few general matters, he said that the interview had come to an end. He had to discuss my application with the manager, after which a second interview with the manager would follow, then a psychological test and some general formalities. I would get notice within two weeks. Then he said goodbye and wished me a good trip home.
Once outside, I went looking for Natasha, who meanwhile had bought food. We sat down on a bench, where I smoked a cigarette and we both ate a sandwich. She had pain in her feet and found it a welcome respite. The afternoon ended, and after a while we went back home, through three metro lines. Once arrived home we enjoyed the roast chicken with potato chips, which seemed to be a fairly normal combination in Mexico. After dinner I went to the garage where I once again smoked a cigarette. For me that had now become a fixture, a cigarette after the meal.
At that time I had no feeling in my right foot, which according to her parents came through the excessive use of coffee. I had asked my sister in the Netherlands if coffee could actually harm the muscles, but she assured me that this was only possible if I drank more than a can of coffee per day. Another myth of Natasha’s parents eradicated. But because of the numbness in my feet it was hard for me to make love. At the critical moment all the muscles in my legs would tighten and because of the numbness in my feet I did not feel comfortable making love. When finally the evening came to an end, we went to bed. Natasha had often taken the initiative to indulge our carnal desires, but because of that foot I felt uncomfortable with it. She had the feeling that I no longer wanted her, despite the many times I explained the reason why I did not feel like love making. “I feel useless,” she then said. In order to make my feelings clear to her, I crept as close as possible to her in bed, with my arm around her. That seemed not to be sufficient to her; anyone could do that , she thought. And so we fell asleep each night, she with her back to me and me behind her with an arm around her. This was the beginning of the end.
A few days earlier I also had a conversation with a branch of the school, though that conversation took place almost exclusively at the service desk of the branch. I had delivered my resume there and asked if it was hiring new teachers. That was frequently the case, but the desk clerk could not tell me whether that was the case at that time. But one would contact me if they did so. That was the end of the conversation, and I went back outside. I would get no response.