Those days, I went to Monforte de Lemos, a small village lost in the heart of Lugo, Galicia, the wet land of Spain.
The one and only reason I went was to be with my grandma’ for one day to celebrate her 80th birthday, which is a number to celebrate. For this, I had to spend one night and the following in the train, since the only option to get there was a night train.
I did a night train trip more than 10 years ago, but I didn’t remember how creepy those train are. It’s narrow, small, dark. The last night trip I had made was from Marseille to Barcelona, I was 20 or 21 and in my room were 3 mexicans guys backpacking through europe, with whom I ended up getting drunk and smoking big fat cigars; this, I do remember, it was a great night. But this time was very different.
When one knows he’s about to share a room with one or up to four perfect strangers for the night, obviously one wanders who’s going to be the result of this computer generated lottery. Good news was that it was only one person. Couldn’t imagine having to share this artificially warmed air with three person. Nevertheless, my roommate for the night was kind of creepy, I got to say. Nice fellow surely. But he had this kind of dumb look in the eyes that I didn’t want to judge, but the all mood that this creepy train was giving me put me in a spirit of expecting anything even more creepy, and I believed my roommate was going to be this creepy-improver. The poor fella apparently had some severe sight deficiency that made him lean toward me almost nose to nose each time he was telling me something, which was often. Since we didn’t have any conversation going on, all he said to me, nose to nose, in this dark narrow room was things like: “if you want you can put your shoes next to mine” “don’t forget to take the toothbrush offered and the free water when you leave; I know I will, and if no one comes to occupy the two remaining beds, we can also share their free brush and water”. He was being nice, but this kind of annoying nice that I couldn’t show any negative response to. Once I was lying on the top bed, before diving into his bottom bed, he didn’t forget to which me good night, nose to nose, browsing me with his eyes from eyes to pants. It was creepy, but I decided to offer my patience, humanity and understanding to what was in the end kindness and sympathy, although expressed in a creepy and uncomfortable way.
Woke up, checked out I was alive and left.
The day with grandma was pleasant; had nice food, talked of a lot of stuff, watched TV, drink fine cava, spoke of past stuff, laughed. I introduced her to technologies with my iPhone, tried to explain what was facebook about, showing how I could access to pictures of her daughter, her grandsons, cousins, get aware of what they’re at. Not sure she got the point, but she was pleased to see pictures of people she hadn’t seen for years. Also used youtube to show her the video of ‘Silencio’ by Ibrahim Ferrer and Portuondo; she loved it and I promised I would send her the DVD of the Buena Vista Social Club movie. I was expecting she would like it; I was happy to see she loved it.
One great thing about visiting grandma is the pictures viewing. I mean the old pictures. From old to very old. I’m speaking of browsing pictures from the 30’s to the 90’s. 60 years of her life, some years with me, my sister, more with my mom, and so on. Really cool. I love it. Each time I go, I’m going through the same pictures and always enjoy it. Get to see some great stuff. My grandpa, my family, my hair when I was 14, my summer holidays, pushing my sister in some kind of rusty metal chariot, and clearly enjoying it. Seeing the giant glasses my mom used to wear, seeing me blowing my first birthday candle, seeing my grandma and my family from galicia when they all were my age. Can’t help thinking they were no iphone, ipods, playstations, computers, cable TV in those days. All looks so different and genuine. People aren’t doing freaking duck faces, holding cameras in one hand taking picture of oneself at a party making strange faces. It’s just genuine happy faces, celebrating friendship and family and smiling real smiles at the camera that will immortalize the moment, making sure it will be look good because one picture was equal to 31 left before ending the tape. I’m glad I lived those pre-technology-boom days. In the end, it’s nice to see where I come from and look at where I am.
This great day was over and another night in the dark narrow train beds was waiting for me. This time, the room was full, 3 roommates waiting. I didn’t bother being social. Hello everyone, have a good night; headphones, Ella Fitzgerald, Jean-Paul Sartre and forget about me. Not antisocial; just 00h30 and a long day behind me.
Really glad I made this big effort of showing up and give company to my dear grandma and enjoy some moments with her for this big day for her.
Will go back soon. I have to.
She was on most the pictures of me from 0 to 18 and I’m sure it meant sometimes doing some efforts; I will give her her money back.