La Gorra Milagro - The Miraculous Cap

The Sane One suggested I recount to all of you this highly improbable yet true story that happened to me. It took me a couple of days to figure out how to tie it in to adoption, but I think I can do it. Fingers crossed!

The Story:

I'm one of those liberals who said if Bush got re-elected, I would leave the country. Unlike most of them, I actually did it. I moved to Barcelona, Spain. I quit a great job and lifestyle to move with my then-best friend to another continent. She is a conservative Republican, so she moved mostly because it sounded fun versus my ideological convictions. The first choice was New Zealand, but like most tests I take in my life, I failed the entrance exam by one point. We had to choose somewhere else to move and my friend had spoken positively of Barcelona. So off we went the weekend after the general election to see if I could live there. By January, I was living in Spain. We actually found a pretty sweet place in a town just outside Barcelona called Badalona. It was a modern, three-bedroom apartment that was brand new and had much more space than the apartments in the city itself. Plus it was directly on the beach, which was hella badass. Now, you would think that a brand new place would have no problems at all. You clearly have never lived in Spain. Basically, nothing worked. And so there were a lot of repairs that needed to be done.

The other part that you need to know is that I am a rabid All Blacks fan. Because of stoopid Marie Kondo, we have been tidying up and deciding what things in our home give us joy or not. At last count, there were almost thirty All Blacks jerseys, not including jackets, hats, scarves, and other All Blacks apparel. My most cherished All Blacks possession is one of my hats, because it went missing for two years and then magically came back into my life.

Shortly after moving into the apartment in Badalona, my bathroom stopped working. So I called the landlord and asked for it to be repaired. He dutifully sent over a couple of guys to fix it. The Catalan versions of Skeeter and Teflon came over and they clearly weren't very happy that the apartment was occupied by foreigners. But after quite some time, they told me that the bidet worked again. I was off doing other things in the living room so I thanked them for repairing it and off they went. Around that time, I noticed that my All Blacks hat was missing. I lose things all the time so I just figured I absentmindedly left it somewhere. I tried to find a replacement, but alas, the styles had changed and no one was selling this particular kind of hat. Oh well, I thought, we had a lot of fond memories together. The annoying thing is that even to this day, there still isn't a newer style hat that I really like. That hat was basically the greatest All Blacks hat ever made because of the simplicity of just having the silver fern on the front.

After two years at that location, my best friend and I needed to find separate living conditions. We just weren't really good roommates because I would get annoyed when she would watch Los Simpsons constantly and she would get really irritated when yet another woman would spend the night -- she much preferred that she was the one in my bed. It got to the point that cohabitation was just one argument after another. Since both of our jobs were in Barcelona, off we went to separate apartments in the city. Now there are 1.6 million people in Barcelona and therefore hundreds of thousands of apartments available to rent. I found one that was three blocks from my favourite bar, so I was pretty excited about moving in. It was another three bedroom apartment and this time, it was all for me. Having this setup in the L'Exaimple neighbourhood was unheard of, but hey, I lived an unheard of lifestyle. Imagine my surprise when the agent told me where to drop off the lease and security deposit, and I was like "Wait, I know that address. I think I have the same landlords as before." Crazy, I know. The landlords owned a video poker company and were not into real estate as their prime source of income and I don't think they had tons of properties to rent. So that alone was kind of fortuitous.

You know how I said that new apartments will always have problems? Well, it turns out that old apartments will always have problems as well. Basically nothing in Spain really ever works all the time. Shortly after I moved in, the laundry room started flooding. So I called my landlord and he said he would send someone over. This is when it starts getting fun. The doorbell rings, and I let the guy in to fix the plumbing. In walks this tubby Catalan WEARING MY ALL BLACKS HAT! I instantly knew that he stole that hat two years ago in the other apartment. I went ballistic. I told him that he stole my hat. He denied that he did it and said that it was his. I called bullshit on that claim, but he stubbornly held on to that falsehood. He then said that he isn't even from Barcelona, that he is from Badalona. At which point I told him, "No fucking shit, I also used to live in Badalona!" Then he changed his story saying he found it "Somewhere." I told him yeah, he "found" it in my fucking bathroom! Then I started pulling out all of my All Blacks gear, overwhelming him with silver ferns all over the place. I'm livid and can barely see straight, but oddly enough, this is when my Spanish was at my highest level of fluency. Adrenaline kicked in and I was forced to communicate with a level of proficiency that would make any Spaniard proud. Normally I speak Spanish like a British soccer fan on holiday, which means not at all. At this particular moment, I was mixing Catalan in my Castellano as well, to let him know that yeah, he couldn't backtrack to Catalan to weasel out of this conflict. Finally I reached over and just yanked the hat off of his head. He is glaring at me, and I told him that unlike him, I actually play rugby and that I would be more than happy to fight him for it. He sees my Barcelona FC Rugby training bag in the corner and wisely decided that maybe someone who plays top level rugby in Spain shouldn't be messed with. Good decision, buddy. Either that, or he saw my kendo swords in another corner. Who knows, but he backs down.

The good news is that I got my hat back. The bad news is that I never got my laundry room fixed. I told my landlord that he had a thief as an employee. He never found anyone else to come over and fix the laundry room, so I had to hire a plumber on my own to fix the leak. Needless to say, I watched him like a hawk.

Out of millions of people and across two different cities, my hat was reunited with its proper owner. It still blows me away the luck that had to occur for the same guy wearing that hat on that day to show up to fix an apartment occupied by the same guy in another city. The odds of this happening are absolutely astronomical. Now, why am I sharing this story? I already said that the Sane One wanted me to, you non-attention-paying worthless pile of crap! :-) Ok, here's the real reason why...

The Tie-in:

I think that my ethnic background is also something that went missing for a long time. Unlike the hat, being Korean was not something I really cherished and wanted to hold on to. Yet, decades later, it came back to me and now I have to accept that no matter what I do, it's something that will always return -- no matter how much I might want it not to. I figure it is a fair trade for getting my hat back, but like it or not, being Korean will always be a part of me. I don't know why I was lucky enough to regain possession of my hat and I don't know why Han Mu managed to annoy a social worker in to finally finding me. What I do know is that there seem to be some cosmic forces dictating that we are supposed to be connected with certain things and it is just beyond our ability to fight that. I once told the Sane One that I was "going to be like water and go with the flow." Ultimately, we have to be like water and just accept this. Just like my All Blacks hat still hangs in my closet, Han Mu's contact information is still in my phone. I have been asked why I don't delete it and block him, but I am worried that he might know a thieving plumber in Spain and he'd just find me anyway.

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