Presence presents

We are still in the simple present tense only. When we try to talk about the past or the future we make mistakes. We learn that there is more than one way to be.

There is the verb “ser”, which you use when you talk about a permanent state. The teacher gives an example. “I am a woman”, “Soy una mujer". Even when these days you can be born as a man and turn into a woman (but probably because you always were, even when you were labelled differently). If it is a temporary state we use “estar”. “Estoy casada”, I am married. Even when you promise your partner that you will stay with him or her forever (but you won’t, because even if you never get divorced, one of you will die earlier than the other). 

Learning a new language brings up many questions. Maybe that is what I like most about it. What is permanent and what is temporary? How do you say “I am alive?” It is a temporary state so it must be “Estoy viva”. But how about “I am dead”? Is that a temporary state? I would say no, because I don’t believe in an afterlife, but that is a personal opinion. And I hope I am wrong there. This language tells me I am. “Estoy muerta”, I am dead. Simple present tense of “estar”. Temporary being.
We learn how to possess and what you possess. We learn to be afraid. To have fear, “tener miedo”, which is a wonderful way to put it because if you have it, if you possess it, you can also decide to get rid of it. In my own language we don’t have fear anymore, it sounds old-fashioned to put it like that. We are afraid. It has become part of our being.

After class I try to be in the present a bit longer. The sun shines. I sit on the bench where the homeless man was sitting yesterday, who today sits on the bench where I was sitting yesterday. We look at each other from a distance. Everything is different today although it seems to be just a reorganisation of elements, a change of shapes. The angelic man in bright white with the baby in a white blanket on his chest is replaced now by an Indian woman who walks the same route he walked yesterday, dressed in brightly coloured waving garments, a sleeping baby in even brighter colours wrapped in a blanket on her back.

Nothing much happens. More people appear and disappear. The homeless man objects when a taxi drives into the square. A man fetches water for his dog from the fountain in the middle. A street cleaner sweeps up a dead pigeon.

All in the simple present tense.

(Spanish class, day 4)

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