Snippets of life

Below are a few things I’ve seen or experienced recently. They’re not written in any particular order or of any particular importance (or of any particular grammatical observance, truth be told). Just some snippets of life.

  • Speakers wound up in trees and fastened to light posts play “Joy to the World” as I walk down the street, in step with the music. Then I notice others in step with the music–a Muslim family, several Spanish businessmen, and others. “Let eevery heeeart prepaare hiim rooom…”
  • Russian classmate #1 is disgruntled that she cannot absorb a complex Spanish grammar structure. Russian classmate #2 says: “You’ve only been here 7 years and you want to understand everything. Calm down. We’ve been here for 20 and we still confuse this.” Bulgarian classmate begins to giggle. “Yes, calm down! You still have 13 years of confusion ahead of you!”
  • After a rain, crushed snails in crushed shells dot the walking/biking trail like flattened M&M buttons.
  • An elderly man I meet on my morning walk that tells me that his mornings are better on the days we cross paths.
  • Little boys at the Kings’ Day parade, squeeze around me to get to the front, chattering in hopeful Arabic and clutching rumpled plastic grocery bags to fill with candy.
  • A winter evening curled up with a book and a cup of lemon balm tea…and Christmas lights I hesitate to take down. 
  • A shopkeeper tells me how long I should spend with the friend I am planning to visit in another town. “Are you going to spend the night at her place? No? Then you need to go before lunch and eat with her and spend a lot of time with her before you leave in the evening.” Oh, how I love to hear the North African perspective on relationships!
  • As I walk by, an elderly man comes out of a café to speak to me. “How tall are you?” he asks and all five feet of him steps back in surprise when I tell him. He says that the other day he was breakfasting with another man in the café. When I walked by, the other man said he would not like to take me out for breakfast. Because I was so tall, surely I would eat a lot! That makes me self-conscious as I walk home, realizing that my oblivion doesn’t exempt me from being a topic of discussion.
  • On my way to catch a bus, I notice a lady with her head in the dumpster. She doesn’t have that look of someone who usually sifts through others’ garbage. (And I’m not judging because I have rescued a few garbage items in my life.) But I pause, curious as she bats her broom handle around. “Can I help you?” She mutters something about losing an item. She doesn’t know if it could possibly be in the garbage she took out. I peer in and see a lavender bag of trash on the very bottom of a very empty dumpster. She doesn’t relinquish the broom when I reach for it, but I hold open the dumpster lid while she fishes around. Finally, success! She snags the handles and pulls it out little by little (still muttering). I manage to avoid the linty end of the broom that is headed my way and still make it to my bus on time.
  • I am at the counter of a North African store when a little boy comes in, not even big enough to see over the counter. He sets a hand-written list on the counter. The shopkeeper grins at him, “Peace be upon you, Arkan. How are you? At peace?” He looks down at Arkan’s mother’s list, reading aloud the first item before Arkan interrupts him. “I want a sucker.” Ahh, that’s how it’s done. And I wonder if suckers are free because he is so stinkin’ cute or if his mother ever notices that the grocery bill is always a little more than she anticipated.

The Hunchback of Mytown

I’ve always had bad posture. For the first decade and a half of my life, it probably had to do with the fact that my peers came up to my belly-button. A severe introvert can pack themselves full of shame and self-loathing when they are literally forced to stand out from the crowd. Think giraffe in a world full of adorable penguins.

Ironically, now that I am living in the stubbiest part of Spain where I tower head and shoulders over most Andalusians, I am no longer ashamed of my height. I know people look at me in awe or call me “the long one” when they talk about me or add me to their marriageable women list simply because I’m hard not to notice. But, I’ve grown used to it, and like I said, it doesn’t bother me (well, except for the last point).

So, where does today’s bad posture come from? The curvature of my spine is still not curvaturing the right way. I lower my aching back into bed at night with a feeble, geriatric groan, “Whyyyyy?”

Why indeed? 

You can try to blame my back pain on FHP (Forward Head Posture) and count the hours I spend on my laptop. You can put a book on my head and tell me to walk across the room. Or you can tell me it’s an attitude problem and blather about the advantages of reaching that top shelf. But, folks, my legs are taller than my kitchen counters. Yep. I can almost sit on my counters without even getting up on tiptoes. So talk about reaching shelves all you want, but how often do I reach for the extra spices on that top shelf and how often do I wash my dishes? 

The real culprit to most tall people’s back pain is that the world was not made for tall people.

I’ve been known to pull up a chair to wash the dishes. Sometimes as I work in the kitchen, I spread my legs apart so my cupboards and I can work together comfortably. Tables are too low for us long-necked diners who dribble most of our soup before it reaches our mouths. Clothing is too short in one place or another. Beds with footboards are nightmare-inducing. When we bend, we have to bend further than normal people. When we fall, we’re more likely to be injured since the ground is farther away. And please don’t recline your airplane seat on a tall person’s knees. 

What is a tall person’s response to this? At least for some of us, it’s bad posture that becomes a habit. It’s sort of a peace treaty in a war that has too many battles. 

The next time you see a hunched tall person, have a little sympathy. Their posture probably has less to do with shame and more to do with acceptance of a world not made tall enough for them.

For the record, I enjoy being tall. But I do sometimes wish I could prop my counters up on concrete blocks.

Are you short? Tell me what it’s like to be short, because I honestly have no idea. 😉

For another perspective on “tall” (and some fabulously creative illustrations) visit: What Is It Like to Be a Tall Girl?


Photo by Nicole Smith on Unsplash