I see El Born* today with leaving eyes. The eyes that make for a slow morning of pausing on cold stone in hot sun drawing. Drawing the impossible scale of the people as they go to work, tinsy little people under the monumental arch are like specs, up to the largeness as they come towards us. Scale must be what its all about in a painting, oh and light and colour, and ….!
I think Molly has run off as I got engrossed in the twiddley patterns of the brilliantly over elaborate blue grey street lamps that, with the palm trees flank this passage like side curtains on stage, the main event is not the backdrop of the arch and the blue mountains behind and the narrowing street that changes colour in the evening as the lights appear first as pins and then spread and finally dominate, always the green cross of the pharmacy sign steeling the show.
I think the streets away from the arc and into the depths actually seem lighter at night , the lighting is so strong round here, the local council trying to chase away the streets’ ghosts, like the olympics did, a re-representation.
They wanted them, and they came, and they came, the May short wearing, flip flop flapping, red faced tourists, they came and they came. Then in summer the slight grumpiness about the streets round the historic quarter turns up a notch, the cant walk through passageways heave with simmering flesh.
The tired Catalan shopkeepers who are left, hide their faces in protective shields and grunt the price or show you the till so you, the stupid disrespectful, taking my time up tourist can work out the money, can fumble through unknown coins. And then Graham says something, even a small gesture in Spanish and out it comes, shield down…. a beautiful smile, genuine eyes coming straight into yours, a kind soft face grins into ours and we see each person.
Their warmth is our happiness, for me personally I am ecstatic when I get a smile and it is only through all Grahams hard work, of days and days of traipsing through town at the heat of the day to sit with other foreigners from every other country imaginable to learn the language of here. Well not quite the language of here but one that everyone can understand. I cant even work out why its Castilian and not Spanish but best not show myself up too much.
Narrow streets aside, and back at the arch, Molly hasn’t run away she is behaving herself sitting in the shade round the other side of the enormously over elaborate stone seat that makes up the bottom of the ridiculously ornate street light…have I mentioned them!? The center stage here is what ever event is taking place, this huge beautiful space that changes with the light, the walk to work, the roller bladers weaving endlessly through cones making long shadows, the white tents up under grey clouds for the silk weaving festival, the hippy hoppy buskers and the circle rollers and the dog walkers collecting every morning to chat. Their dogs chat and run round them barking happily, they swap sides as the sun becomes too warm, I cant speak to them but they love Molly and she understands them. These stones are the stage for the people in the light, this is a town for people, they are center stage.
Last night we went to check out our new place and check out where Mummy and Daddy are staying next week and on the way back in the apparent middle of nowhere we could hear music, we scooted towards it on our bikes and a group that were also in the bar eating that we stopped at to have supper, were now in front of the theatre singing and playing their hearts out to a small collection of people in a massive space around the theater with the big red willy building in the background.
The night space seemed so open, so wide, so big, so full of air after our little paths, our little crevasses in the towers of living spaces. We stayed a while and cycled off through the sound, the speakers were facing the dark open empty road as we cycled through and away from her voice and the piano and the drums and the guitar kind of came with us.
So we were late back hence my slower morning, hence giving myself the time to hear the swallows high pitch screeching, feeding, swooping and I think I could live here but only in one of those top green edged terraces that they share. Our apartment really is nice inside but it is too claustrophobic looking into someone else’s bedroom all the time, even if that is framed by sandy coloured stone and textures.
But today I have leaving eyes and out comes my camera again and I forgive the piss on the streets and I forget that we are kind of in ‘a back alley’ not so much a ‘ quite side street’ . Although it is mostly dogs piss ( not Molly obviously! ) someone actually pissed on our door the other night which actually went into the hall …nice…..cant men aim their willies in a bowl, is this why they have to relieve themeless ‘en plen air’ and the shopkeepers have to disinfect their steps as part of their rattling shutter up opening morning routine.
If Barcelona is a stage for people then inevitably it includes all people or maybe this is just the ‘type ‘ of tourist they don’t like, the programs talk of wanting a better class of tourist, which sounds terrible but I guess it figures.
Anyway, today I don’t see that, remember, I have leaving eyes and I love the place again and I only see the light. I am slow and I look and I wander with strawberries, melon, peaches, tomatoes and artichokes from the nice lady at the veg shop, and cheese from the friendly man in the cheese shop with the teasing laughing customers and I wander breakfast baguette in hand in my new dress and I feel the sun on me and I am happy and then because I am from the north I start to feel panicky as its ten o’clock and I am massivly late for work.
But if I went to work, like I have been, racing on my bike everyday to get in early so I can think, so I can work; I miss the collection of dog walkers and the ridiculously elaborate lampposts at the theatre ( sorry did I mention those ) and we don’t have artichokes for supper we have lentils which are very nice but not every day.
There must be a balance, but if you are from the north ( actually Graham said it was a myth that the people from the south don’t work hard ) then we have an inbuilt, or put upon us necessity to work endlessly, to stress, I enjoy it, but there must be time to watch the swallows too. And today I need to as I have leaving eyes and I am sorry for my harshness to call them piss streets and I want to take every last morsel in. We are not leaving Barcelona but we may never live in El Borne again and I ‘miss it already’!
In fact because today is a slow day and I am writing this, it is the first time I have heard ‘the crying man’. Graham hears him every lunchtime. He said it was quite disturbing, exacerbated maybe because our neighbors, down one then across one but on our side, argue….or thinking about it…. have argued. It has seemed quiet now for some time.
Maybe it was the glass thrown out of the window incident. Woosh straight out of their window to the opposite shutter, smash and it scatters itself dramatically in shards across the balcony and down to the street below bringing not seen faces onto balconies and there are exclamations and enquiries and apologies.
I am not sure if the glass was destined for the child who was playing with the shutter taunting the woman opposite ( I am presuming it was a woman I don’t know why, isn’t that awful! ) or wether it was destined for the boyfriend who may have been standing by the window, he may have ducked and it sailed past him out the window, anyway I haven’t heard them argue since.
It is seriously nice here though, not the middle class* terrace in career comerc of opera and small children’s piano practice and baby clothes on the line but it still feels similar in a way. People are bumped up against each other more in these streets with no central courtyard space to open out onto. You have to have a stronger belief in your cloths pegs here for fear of them tumbling down into stains while you are out. People live so near and are so amazingly considerate and polite and quite but sometimes life has to explode and vessels fly.
*I think we are actually in La Ribera but I can never figure it out.
** whatever that is here and I cant think of another way of saying it as I am so god dam english its the only way I can think, in classes