I never realized this before, but in the United States, I don’t see a lot of elderly people. Sure, I see my grandparents and then some older people in church, but in general, I don’t often cross paths with people much over 50 or 60. All of a sudden, when I arrived in Spain, I saw an explosion of older people. An elderly couple walking together arm and arm to the market down the street. An older gentleman sitting on a bench and feeding the birds. Three older women in fur coats walking with their heads high to shop in style and with grace. They carry a badge of honor and years of wondrous stories. Where is this brave and incredible generation in the United States?
In fact, where are people in general in the United States? The streets here have a constant bustle of people, going to and from every direction. Young children, old store keepers, women with lofty gazes and teenagers with irrational fearlessness all walk through the streets to go to stores, school, cafes or work. Every face has a thousand stories etched in it, stories that I long to know.
To me, there is nothing more beautiful than the sight of humanity. However, I feel as though that humanity is lost in the United States. We are a community of cars. We hide in our giant vehicles and drown out the lives of others in our safe, comfortable box. We go to work and we go home. We go to school and we go home. But we don’t really live. We don’t really go out and meet people. Sure, we grab coffee with a friend every now and then, but do we really live outside our houses?
For Spaniards, the appearance of their house isn’t terribly important, since life happens outside of the house rather than in it. It’s much preferred to have money to live walking around the city than to have a sizable house with impressive features. To be in the house is to be anti-social. To be out of the house is to truly live.
I find that I much prefer the life of Spaniards. I love the diversity of individuals walking in the streets. I love the realness of these people as they go to their schools and jobs and houses. I wish the United States would learn this too—the value of living outside of the home, the value of living with people.