The night before I moved out I took a final walk around the barrio. The air was perfectly still and smelled of hot pine and jasmine. When I got home it was uncomfortably warm inside, so I turned all the lights out and went to stand on the terrace for some more air. I’d been there a good few minutes when I heard the gentle squeak of metal springs – and looked up to see my neighbour Teodoro readjusting himself in his garden chair. His feet were barely two metres from my head.
“Last night here, right?”
“It is. I’ll be sad to say goodbye to the neighbourhood, I’m fond of it.”
We spent a while discussing the merits of living in this hilly part of town. Then he told me about the time he had left Barcelona as a young man, having moved here from the South.
“I didn’t like this city, it was too big,” he said, but then explained that he was forced to return because there were no jobs in his town. He’s now in his seventies and has lived in Barcelona ever since, and has grandchildren here. Then:
“Will you live with your parents back in England?”
“I don’t think so. I’m a bit old for that, don’t you think?”
He said he was sorry I was leaving and that he hoped the new neighbours were quiet. I said I hoped so too, and was about to say something else when cats started yowling at the end of Teodoro’s plot of land that lay below our balconies. Stirred into action, Teodoro stood up muttering something about a broom. We said goodnight and goodbye, and then moments later the yowling was halted with a crash and a Spanish expletive.