Auburn student pictured abroad in bee keeper suit in Spain

Serena in Spain

Serena Ussery: Semester Program in Alcala de Henares, Spain 2019

“bee bop boop,” says the robot that I knew as Mr. Crumb Eater. The flat, automatic vacuum needed no help entering my room to pick up my leftover chips. My large paned window is open. Cracked rather, and I can hear my clothes doing whatever the wind tells them to do. The smell of Spanish tobacco and strong coffee make for an ambient aroma, impossible to put in a jar.

“Sundays,” I say to myself.
“Abuele’s here,” Miguel says to me.

My room’s window and the kitchen window were perpendicular to each other. You could look out one and see directly in the room of the other.

With my leaning body and stretching eyes, I see that our smoking patio is occupied with a poised and burning cigarette. Its neighbor is a clear, cupped swimming pool with three olives as its attendees. I stare and prop my elbows, anticipating a game of peek-a-boo from my favorite little lady. I receive instead, a confirming nod from, my host mother, Belén. Abuele had indeed arrived.

Step one: Find slippers.

Step two: Slip on slippers.

Step three: Totally skate on the hardwood floors all the way to the kitchen.


I ignore my makeshift floor skating career to give Abuele a hug, un abrazo. And almost immediately I feel an apron being placed around my hips.

“Vamos Serenita,” she says handing me a knife fit for the MLB’s best slugger. She tells me that she’s getting too old to cut and to stir and to cut and to stir and to…

“Mas aciete Belén.”
“More oil Belén.”

Little Abuele is Spain’s finest symphony director, as she conducts Belen and I’s culinary tandem.

That Sunday, martinis gave a new fluidity to the kitchen’s movement. Abuele’s singing served as an appetizer. My mind was only present. The recipe and its details evade me now. Only my hands remember the motions.

Stir and cut and stir and cut and sip.

Miguel and Belén occupying both of my shoulders.

“Sundays,” I say to myself. Sweet Spanish Sundays.

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