Ich Heiße Kartoffel

From the corner of the room come sounds of frantic ticking. The youngest, as she announced this morning, is sitting at the table. Her head almost disappears into the screen. While I plop down in front of the television after a long walk and devour my usual toast with herb butter, she is completely lost in her work. The ticking then briefly gives way to another sound. A sign that the laptop is almost without power. “Yours is already charged, isn’t it?”, she shouts, while moving to the other side of the table, unplugging my laptop and plugging in hers. I mutter affirmatively as I take my empty plate to the kitchen. On the way to the toilet, I quickly glance at her screen. “You are already shopping, I see?”

She shakes her head firmly. “I’m just making an inventory list”, she says without taking her eyes off the screen. “With the essentials?” I ask. “Of course.” She goes on unstirred. “Like a table, a set of glasses and wine?” I try carefully. She sighs profoundly and then recites every point on her list for us. The pace at which she does that shows that she hoped we didn’t hear half of it. But heard or not, when she is ready, we are about three thousand euros poorer. “A bargain”, she says triumphantly. “Especially when you consider that for that amount you will also get two wine cabinets of five hundred euros a piece”, she concludes. My mom and I start laughing. With the butter knives still in the back of my mind, I can’t constrain myself. “Congratulations, you and your wine cellar are starring in my new blog.” With a sigh she closes the laptop and gets up from the table. “You are bullying me.”

She is right. But we have been home for almost eight weeks now. And still nothing flows here, except for the wine. The only trips we’re making are the trips to the glass container. No vacation in Spain or a visit to our future home. Because there, too, everything has stopped. As long as the architect has not been able to get the development plan from the municipality, we can’t do anything. So where the youngest already set herself to planning the interior of the wine cellar this morning, the middle one decided that it was time to start learn Spanish. “If we’ll ever be on television*, I don’t want to look like a fool,” she says. And so we begin to focus on the grammar together. While I explain the difference between the present, past and future, the youngest walks into the living room in her bathing suit. My mother follows, with two glasses of wine in her hands. “We are going into the jacuzzi”, the youngest screams as she unzips the cover of the inflatable bath. Although my sister has no desire to look like an idiot on national television, this idea is too attractive to us. We quickly change and pour ourselves a glass of wine. As I slide into the warm water, I try to explain to everyone the difference between the direct and indirect object, but nobody is interested.

So the topic of conversation rapidly falls on the interior of our future home in Spain. Because we are still not excluding making an appearance on national television, we’re a discussing what could happen. Would we make the same classic mistakes? Then it could very well happen that my father and Marc, one hour before the first guests arrive, are still tiling the bathroom. I then expect the youngest to sit quietly in her wine cellar, polishing the butter knives for the twelfth time and be ready to receive the first guests to her wine tasting.

*In the Netherlands there is a very famous television show called “Ik Vertrek”, where they film people who are planning to move abroad. I guess it’s based on the English show called “No Going Back”. Most of them plan to run a Bed & Breakfast and very often this will not go easily. They’re not prepared and/or don’t speak the language at all.