Today, my small success was learning my tienda man’s name: Alfonso. He’s quiet and doesn’t make many facial expressions, but he always crinkles his eyes when I come to the counter. He knows my face and my strange requests, and he and his wife always greets me graciously. We hardly talk, but our exchanges carry warmth and neighborly solidarity.
There’s an elegance to his movements, as though the sundry toiletries, groceries and snacks he wraps in brown paper are precious valuables and fragile gifts to be borne with utmost care to the palaces and castles of our pueblo.
Today, I ordered the usual: five eggs, two bananas and a papaya. He gently wrapped my purchases and counted my change.
“What’s your name?” He suddenly asked, carefully.
I broke into a grin: “Shanna! And yours?”
Our conversation was only a few obligatory sentences, but we shared the most tangibly friendly smile imaginable and as I gathered my items, we traded a lovely phrase:
“nos vemos“, see you soon.