Live versus Living

In Spanish, like in English, there exist many tenses. If you’re an English speaker, you might say, My name is Cat, and I’m writing a blog entry. The first half is present simple, used for facts, habits and every day occurrences, while the second refers to what one is doing at this very moment; in other words, the present continuous.

Manu, the very same one that called me poor for not having any Play Mobile toys, is currently dealing with this very difference and failing miserably. In Spanish, you see, people ask, “Illo, que haces?” or, Dude, what are you doing? There isn’t much difference in the two tenses. For that reason, I always say, “Vivo en Sevilla.” I live in Seville.
But recently my friend Christene, another third year auxiliar, noticed I switched from saying “I am living in Spain” to “I live in Spain” while speaking English.
As I spend my last two weeks at IES Heliche (I’ve only let the tears loose once), I’ve started reflecting on my life in Spain and how I feel that, after three years, I finally am a resident of Sevilla.
In my barrio, I’m the vecina (neighbor) to the new gastro bar down the street, always invited in for a buchito of wine or a few slices of creamy brie cheese. At the bank, the grey-haired banker while call me over to his new office with a “CHICAGOOOO!” and deposit my check for me. It’s not necessary for me to tell the waiters at La Grande, El Colmao or La Tiza my name – they write my name in chalk or permanent marker to start tabbing up my bill. Soy Trianera. I live here.
With next year’s uncertainty with jobs, living arrangements and all, I’ve been savoring what I can of Triana: the flamenco chords that mix Semana Santa bands around 10pm, the old ladies pushing their carritos towards the market on Friday mornings, the clatter of beer glasses in the middle of the day at the bars below my window. I love this place, and my heart is here.
There’s a bar we used to go to a lot called Las Golodrinas. This is the word for swallow, and there are hundreds of them in this neighborhood. The bar is trypical Triana: tiles and virgins covering the walls, regulars eating their pinchitos at their normal tables. It’s the Sevillano version of Cheers. And this tile has always made me choke up a bit:

Translation: If I get lost one day, look for me in Triana. Don’t go to my native Asturias; perhaps you’ll hear the sound of bagpipes sighing in magical resonance. Look for me in a tavern in Triana, where our friend Paco, who smells of basil, gives us a good wine to drink of humility and temprance. IF I get lost one day, there you’ll find my soul.
Triana, me tienes enganchada. I live in Triana.

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.

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