Before each trip, I always received the same call, and in that call the same phrase was always repeated: “And do you have to go so long?” Normally, she was preceded by the destination she was going to —Thailand, United States—, and I would answer between laughs “grandma, don’t worry”, but inside I thought yes, of course I had to go so long. I had to know something more than the whitewashed walls of my town, something more than the C3 of Cercanías, something more than stew on Sundays and rice pudding when Easter approached.
The tickets were not paid for by me, who earned just over 1,000 euros and couldn’t even afford a flat that wasn’t shared. I was traveling for work: for several years, I was a lifestyle writer at a fashion magazine. Among my duties were making lists of books that I had not read, but that I recommended not to be lost to the readers; compendiums of series that I had not seen, but were essential or travel much more than my pocket allowed me. He attended posh brand presentations, tried luxury hotels and restaurants, and ate products from firms that he couldn’t even buy by saving twice as much all year.
When I returned from those trips, I had to write about how wonderful a hotel was or how delicious the new dish from a high-end restaurant was, but the reality is that many of them seemed foolish to me. When visiting those places, sometimes I thought that the poor are denied many things and one of them is beauty, but other times I came back convinced that the rich were not only more tacky than a partridge with red garters, but also idiots for investing those big bucks in goods and services whose sole function was to remind them that they were indeed rich.
When I stopped working at the magazine, I also stopped being a class tourist, sleeping in six-star hotels —they exist— and traveling several times a year. When my grandmother died, I stopped receiving calls before taking planes. My grandfather, for her part, stopped talking about anything that wasn’t her, hers, Maria hers. One of the last times I visited him, my one-year-old son sat in one of the cattail chairs in the corral and he told me that that was where my grandmother used to sit, and that in turn it was where “sister sister” used to sit. ”, an aunt of my grandfather who apparently wore a headscarf even to sleep.
Trying to calculate how old that chair must be, I thought about my grandmother’s question and that no, of course I didn’t have to go so long: everything I needed to know was close to her. He was even in her. Not even to brush aside luxury did she have to visit, incredulous and sometimes uncomfortable, expensive hotels and restaurants. Because in a world that worships opulence, what is exclusive can only be the simplicity of a cattail chair that gives a seat to a child, having first given it to his mother, and before that to his grandfather, and before that to his great-grandmother. and before, even, his great-great-grandmother. In a reality in which everything is fast, outdated and changing, luxury cannot be anything other than to remain.
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