Spain and Ahab’s Wife at a Crossroads

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I am about half way through (around page 300 of 600) Ahab’s Wife: Or, The Star-gazer. The novel, one of my mother’s favorites, had been lying dormant for years on my book shelf until a week or so ago when I decided to open her up and give some air to pages. After a slow start, I am finally fully involved in its development.

Then right when Una, the story’s main character, was at last about to touch land after a dramatic voyage at sea, Spain convincingly beat Russia 3-0 in the European Cup semi-finals. This victory marks a major change in the Spanish national soccer team’s history of disappointing performances in major international competitions.

The moment the match ended, the spontaneous festivities broke out in the streets of Madrid. Outside my window, it sounded like a mix between a war zone (firecrackers and car alarms), San Fermines, and a fascist pep rally. Although I am not the biggest fan of patriotic boasting, reaching the finals of the European Cup is a major ego booster to a (soccer-loving) nation and source of pride and future bragging rights.

But amidst all of the cheering and chanting (“que viva España” and “a por ellos, oé”) and celebrations, I kept wondering how people could so openly rejoice after everything that Ahab’s wife, Una, had just been through and everything that awaits her ashore. It just goes to show that we live in little bubbles isolated from our own immediate surroundings, like a raft alone in the open sea.

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Filed under Digressions, Football/Soccer, Literature, Living la vida española

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