Sunday afternoons the sounds of laughter drift over our next-door neighbor’s wall – deep hearty laughter, the sounds of friends enjoying pleasant conversation and probably good wine. José and Virginia and his mom Mely run a small neighborhood grocery store just down the hill.
José is a bricklayer by trade, but jobs are scarce. Mely’s husband died a few years ago, so they all help keep the household together. And Sunday afternoons, their only free time during the week, they relax. And laugh.
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.
I came across Nenad Burcar on Tkalciceva street just off Zagreb’s main square, selling his paintings. He is also a writer, and he asked if I was interested in producing some of his television scripts. When I asked if I could take his picture he agreed, but only if he could also take mine. So to honor his request I am including his pictures of me — holding his paintings.
Enrique and other men and boys from his village herded sheep ten months of the year, in Castilla León in the summer and Extremadura in the winter. In his early days they moved the sheep on foot and horseback, and later in trains and trucks. I found Enrique enjoying the sun on his daily walk outside the village, now only populated by old people and summer visitors.