Flying Toward Dawn

Being a teacher has many benefits, but being a Latin teacher has some of the best benefits of all…..especially if you love traveling.  Since the majority of all Romance languages come from Latin, it is helpful knowing Latin. Because I know Latin (mind you, not fluently) well enough, I can usually figure out what someone is saying to me or what I need to translate from what is written.  I have been studying Spanish diligently for the last four years and while I am not yet fluent, I can get by in places where only Spanish is spoken. Because of this ability, the Dragonslayer made an arrangement with his new boss to have me tag along on their business trip to Spain.  His new boss was not a nice man (his nickname at the Dragon factory was “Chainsaw Al” because his job was to fire everyone and replace them with new employees making half the salary.  Private Equity companies only care about the bottom line. They are not interested in relationships at all.  So my husband’s new boss agreed to these terms and I was allowed to go on this particular trip.  Both the Dragonslayer and I knew this would be his last trip with the Dragon factory company.  Chainsaw Al needed my husband to make introductions to the people he had been doing business with for the last 25 years….people who we had been invited to their weddings, people who sent us wonderful gifts of Spanish olive oil and wine, people who we were intimately involved with their families, who we would entertain when they came for holidays in the US.  These were not business people to us, but friends and even ones we considered as family.  We knew in advance this would be a heartbreaking trip as Chainsaw Al would not see these people as people but as opportunities to make a name for himself by getting them to accept lower and lower prices for their products.  I was reluctant to go, but I desperately wanted to accompany my husband to give him the strength and encouragement I knew he would need.  So, I made a deal with the Dragonslayer.  If I could fly to Madrid 4 days earlier and spend time really soaking up the city, I would go.  Deal made.  On the last day of May, 2019, I flew to Madrid.  The photo attached to this blog was taken in the early hours just before flying into the full break of day.  It was a horrible night on the plane as my last minute reservation did not allow for anything other than economy and it was hot and crowded and I didn’t sleep at all.  I was feeling pretty miserable when I opened my window shade and saw this remarkable sight.  My heart was strengthened by this glimpse of perfect symmetry between the ebony night sky and the arriving dawn. I immediately took comfort from the fact that God had allowed my weary soul to see such a sight. I arrived in Madrid and quickly procured a taxi to take me to the hotel so I could freshen up and start exploring.  My city guide was Rosemary, one of our dear friends who works for a garlic company that supplied many, many cases of garlic for the Dragon factory. I love Rosemary. She is part Spanish and part Lebanese.  She even once dated an Arabian prince who wanted to marry her and gave her copious amounts of gold jewelry as an incentive to do so…..but she declined, knowing that her independence was worth much more than gold.  We had an absolutely fabulous time wandering all over Madrid, eating at the best restaurants, sauntering through the Prado, stopping to take in my favorite painting of all, The Agnus Dei by Zurbarán, and spending lots of time just talking about life, children, men and beauty.  Her daughter owns the most famous spa in Madrid, The Lab Room, so I was treated to several beauty treatments plus an eyebrow experience that made me want to take monthly trips to Madrid just to keep them in shape! Rosemary introduced me to Vino Tinto, the preferred summer drink of Spaniards.  It is chilled red wine mixed with a light, bubbly lemon flavored beverage. They drink it at lunch. I did feel pretty sophisticated drinking my vino tintos at lunch! The four days flew by and before I knew it the Dragonslayer had arrived and it was time to meet up with Chainsaw Al and his wife.  God was gracious to us in that his wife, Judy, was truly wonderful.  The trip went much as we had expected.  All of the beautiful friendships and relationships we had cultivated over the last 25 years were reduced to strictly business.  Many business lunches ended in tears for me as I knew we would not likely see these wonderful people again, for the private equity company would end the Dragonslayer’s relationship with them only a few short months after this trip. My basic Spanish speaking/translating skills came in handy and I was grateful to be able to actually use them when it was needed. I was also grateful to be by the Dragonslayer’s side in what was obviously a painful situation. When I think back on that trip and the first photo I took of the trip, flying into the dawn, I think how appropriate that photo was and what it came to symbolize.  The ebony black sky represented our leaving behind a toxic work place (but a place which also meant some measure of security) and flying into the coming dawn….freedom to begin again and forge a new path.  And that is exactly what we have done. 
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