I think this photo may be my absolute favorite of the 800+ shots I took this past week. Take a moment to click on it and "embiggen
" it to catch the focal point of the elderly couple on the balcony which I get teared up just looking at again since it embodies why I will definitely be coming back to Barcelona, perhaps permanently. I began by shooting the charming Forn de
Pa sign below them, but first the man came out to gaze at the street in his Dreta L'Eixample
neighborhood (the Upper East Side of Barcelona), and then the woman joined him. I felt I was seeing something that was at once very private but also so natural and loving and not in any guidebook. In the flash of a few seconds, just as the warmth of afternoon was about to turn to the end of the day touched me in a deeply multi-layered way that Billie Holiday singing "Autumn in New York" does. Just after putting my camera back in my bag, they glanced down, as if suddenly aware of me, and I went on about my way, and they returned inside.
With apologies to Luis Buñel
, I found that the bourgeoisie
of Barcelona, especially its elderly, had enormously discreet charm and great grace. Almost always elegantly but never elaborately dressed. My favorite moments were watching them going about their daily lives and picturing myself at that age and thought about where I would like to be when that time comes. Most of them, of course, came of age during or some perhaps just before Franco came of age. As Catalonians
, even the most elite felt oppression during that dark era, and I found myself longing to pull one aside and ask what it felt like to have so many dreams dashed and now to live in a city so glorious, graceful and able to function without resentment of its many annoying tourists.
Those questions raced through my head as I followed a few steps behind this woman who dashed ahead of me into her local market, a wrought iron charmer. How I longed to walk beside her, help her push the cart along as she filled it with items for an elegant Catalonian
Saturday supper that would suddenly increase from one to two.
A couple of days later just after nabbing this shot of a lady in the Born, she turned and glanced back at me with a sly, knowing smile. She didn't look the least bit resentful or angry but perhaps just a tad scolding of a ladrón
at play in what has become one of the priciest neighborhoods in the city. In a few months, Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona
will let the world know that I am not the only neurotic Jew to descend on their city. And I am not the only one obsessed with real estate pornography, and I am sure we'll get plenty of lush interiors in the Born and Dreta L'Eixample
. I've already scouted real estate prices there which are somewhere between San Francisco and Manhattan. When I announced more than a decade ago that I would be searching for and buying real estate in San Francisco, people laughed and said "in your dreams; it'll never happen." When some young ladrón
follows me up Passeig de
Saint Joan as I saunter home leaning into my cane and carrying a loaf of warm pa and salt cod, I promise to have attained a similar state of grace and will just smile back, having plenty of secrets that I prefer to let shimmer through the gauze of bourgeois
Labels: aging, Barcelona, Catalonia, grace, Spain