Thirteen

I’m sitting on a half-terrace-tapas-place somewhere in the center of Barcelona wearing my summer outfit. On the table: a tortilla con patatas and a beer. I’m guessing this street is about four meters broad but there is a perpetual stream of people in both directions. I am looking out on some shops. The closest ones are called See the city by bike, Happy pills and Calzedonia. Between those last two, there is a portal with a tag of the rooster that laid the eggs I’m eating. Above them, characteristic dark brown balconies with on the background walls that are light reddish-brown or beige-yellow. Some balcony doors have dark blue ornamented frames, others are sober. There is a kitchen gas tank outside one door. Hanging plants on the fence somewhere else. And the omnipresent Catalonian flag.

The people of Catalunya want independence from the Spanish government. This place historically was a separate country. When it was conquered, inhabitants were forbidden to speak their own language. Today, flags and statements on the walls express the ongoing drive for separation from the Spanish regime. The movement is so alive that on last year’s Catalunya Day, hundreds of thousands of people held hands to make an over 400 km long human chain from north to south.

A boy just jumped on a girls back. Both are around twenty-five. She walked away with him. An old lady with a hat and two crutches passes by very slowly; step-by-step-by-step. A guy with long black curls and a significant beard comes out of the bike shop, stands still on the doorstep, hands in his pockets. He whistles somewhat, watching girls pass who wear only the essential. A tall man, thick black glasses, very short grey hair, makes long, slow strides while he discusses something with his shorter male partner. Judging his serious looking explanatory style, the topic seems intellectual-arty. A several months old tiny being, bright blue eyes wide open, pushed forward, makes a high-pitched pffrr-horse-sound. A red car drives by. It’s from Girona. Two attractive creative looking people inside. Do they own a shop here? A fat man on the phone, holding hands with a little girl. A Spanish looking retired trio, two men and one woman. A guy with a blond afro, holding a scooter helmet that makes you wonder: how did that ever fit on there? Two older ladies, one supporting the other with her arm, holding a bag of medicine in the other hand. A semi-tall teenage boy in tourist outfit who seems to be looking for somebody. A guy with bright red shoes, followed by a girl in black, holding a black hat of almost a meter in diameter. A guy with a shirt with on it Tarot card N°XIII : La muerte. A guy riding a taxi bike.

How long has this been going on? How long will it last? Will it be affected by independence, politics or war? Will it be touched by famine or pandemics? Or perhaps these streets will once sink into the sea, after which the people will pass by in boats?

A young boy with long hair has the front bottom of his shirt pulled through the hole for his neck. It looks as though he’s wearing a bra. It could have been me twenty years ago. Someone came out of the rooster door. Someone else went in. She left it open.

 

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