One Woman

November 19, 2018

Every morning, on a street around the corner from where I live, an elderly lady appears with a mop and bucket and cleanses the street in front of her house. That house, between a bank and a neat, newish frankfurter bar, is a surviving fairly scarce example of dwellings that have not given over their ground floors to international telecommunication conglomerates, smart boutiques, or homey cafés. But, despite all the resources belonging to these, she is the one who impresses with her small but regular effort of neighborly conscience. She neatly outlines a rectangle of spotless paving stones that is the length of her house and bisects the street’s width. There is no air of better-than-thou exhibitionism; one feels sure that she has merely continued what her own mother and grandmother did before her when the town had not yet become such a draw to the free-spending holiday-makers who often act as though it belongs to them. It’s also an opportunity for her to have short conversations with her passing neighbors—whether lifelong or gone-native immigrants like me.

I find it impossible not to think of hers as a sort of sacrament that witnesses to a very personal civic responsibility and a loving service to her immediate surroundings—this daily simple act by a fulfilled lady in the street named Jesús.

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