Ramon calls me “hermano” because of our shared faith. I’ve told him some of my personal burdens, and he always has an encouraging word. Our family has strong connections, so when I caught him with the sun on his face as he waited for his grandson by the school gate, I knew he was genuinely glad to see me.
I’ve asked Ramón if I could take a portrait of him and his wife, but he is busy helping with grandchildren, so I may have to settle for this.
She and her husband travel around Europe on bicycles, returning home to earn enough money to leave again. I encountered them at a Christmas fair in Rincón de la Victoria, near Málaga, just back from a trip through France.
I was embarrassed to ask this man to take his picture. His face was half paralyzed as if from a stroke, but he was willing and even looked off to one side when I asked.
A few weeks later I returned with a print to give as thanks. This time a woman approached me and asked what I wanted. I told her I was returning a favor, asked if she was his wife. She replied “more or less”. I’m still trying to figure that one out.
My son needed a suit adjusted. (You’re wondering why a seventeen-year-old kid would wear a suit. It’s for a play.) He’s fairly thin for his height so the jacket, trousers, vest and shirt all needed some tailoring. No problem for Pepa. A few pins here and there and she was done.
A week and a half and twenty euros laters he had a great fitting suit. And Pepa and Inés, the shop owner were quite willing to let me come back and take some photos.
I was surprised to learn that Pepa is my co-worker’s landlady. But then this part of Málaga is really a just a small town, with a small town feel.
Her earliest memories are of dust clouds blasting her Texas Panhandle home, and her mother wrapping the sugar bowl in a towel, only to find brown dust among the treasured crystals. She’s lived in four different countries, adapting to life in large South American cities and the primitive Amazon jungle, and all with a husband and five kids. After all that she found it difficult to settle down in small town Kansas. She is my earliest memory – my mother.
Manolo came into the store and María slipped him a couple of hard rolls. Then she scolded him for something he had said, just like a mother would. Manolo is a hoarder and he smells really bad. But María is really kind to him. She is kind to lots of people. Once she told me that there is more to life than money.
Pictures María took in places like Peru and Norway used to cover the walls, but slowly shots of her granddaughter Nebraska are edging them out – also Bruce Springsteen posters. Maybe when the economy gets better María will start traveling again. She told me she would like to visit India and maybe Canada.
After three weeks in the hospital my good friend James was very thin but had a full beard. His future mother-in-law brought in contraband food–bananas and steamed carrots– to augment the white rice he was receiving.James told me he was very tired and not to stay very long. Friends can say that.
He survived and is now married. His mother-in-law did not like the beard. It has since disappeared.