Elderly/Ancianos

In America, I zoom around in an isolating box, going from place to place…seeing very little of the strangers around me. My life in America was mostly restricted to the young. But here, I walk. And when one walks, the lives around are close, too close to ignore. Here, the lives of the elderly are often pacing next to mine. And it is beautiful. My heart warms to see the abuelo walking with his grandchild. I gently pass the two old ladies strolling arm in arm, prattling away in lisping Castilian. As I enter the Plaza Mayor the benches are filled with Salamantinos that have persevered here since the Civil War. Spaniards have one of the longest life spans of any other nationality. Some say the reason is their diet. There is plenty of seafood and red wine to increase one’s longevity. But bread and pork are just as common, and chocolate seems to be a staple as well. Diet could be a factor, but I think the reason Spaniards live so long is because they stay in the world. They brush against the hustle and bustle and have the tough skin to push back and keep up. They smirk at frantic students saying, “Tranquila.” They have seen some very bad times, and still they stroll with canes and wool stockings around and around the Plaza. They watch and participate in the activity around them. They live life where they have always lived it and share the space with new growth. They are as vibrant a culture here as the tourists, the students, or the children. Every life overlaps here, even if it’s just on the sidewalk. And when I walk home after a long day, I see the lady with thick shoes and a stunning blue scarf smiling at her friend as they exchange besos…and I am so happy I live here, amongst the old and the young and some-where-in-betweens.

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