I should have been born in the a cottage, not in the outskirts of my town. Any patch of green, a flowered garden, a mere blade of grass was unknown in our neighbourhood. The waste is quite visible along the dull road in Manresa where I live. The street is made of building blocks, they’re tall and grey. No one here has flower pots on their balconies. My sister used to ask Mom if we could do some window plantboxes with blossoming daisies and petunias among other types. “Not today, Montse,” she’d always say. It took such a long time before we understood that we didn’t have the money. So we take long tours across Les Escodines district. We leave behind all the bakery shops and grocer shops of the Vilomara Road, and the great desolate-wall murals from the Balconada barracks. I cut across to St Josep Road where I sometimes I see teens I went to school with. “What about you, Montse?” they say. “Today sucks.” I say. Ten minutes later I am at Vic road, the main entry to my town, I pass the rusty ironbridge, I cross Els Dolors giant roundabout.
I negociate my promenade through residential streets, with some scattered residences located along the new boulevard all the appartment houses terraced, much nicer than ours. I end up at Les Bases with its large houses and wide panelled-windows from the upper-middle classes.
Opposite is the Museum of the Technique, which hundred years ago housed the water reservoirs of the town. I adore all that wide open space and the room for skaters. I’d be embarrassed if anyone I know could see how happy I am to be strolling past the discreet flower balconies, happy as myself to be out for their walk.
Beyond the park I turn right to go down over the old bus station feeling the transition of two neighbourhoods who would not meet halfway. I like to stare a while at Montserrat summit.
I keep up through the Passeig, so-called because the arboured avenue have shop names like Garoina, Athena, Mima’t. Often there are small kids speaking languages I don’t recognise, throwing a ball to a passer-by. Up towards Puigterrà, I trespass the iron-wrought gates. On fine days, the gardens are full of retired couples, but I go there in all seasons. I stop to smell the tiny buds from the rosebush.
I spend ages in the wooden bench facing Collbaix, heading then to Vic street. It’s so peaceful and harmonious the descent that I was weary some local old lady would enquiry what I was doing away from my flat and send me back to La Balconada.
There’s another gate that takes you into Baixada del Castell, all big houses and gardens. I reach the traffic jam and cross towards Caritat street, such a rich and massive building whose oppressive figure may be explain why I’ve never been inside. Next I’m stepping onto the Swimming pool, my permanent bliss because I go past the most magnificent memory from our industrial architecture: La Fabrica Nova (dated from 1895), reaching the hidden stairs that lift us to Flors Sirera centre, so that I completely forget that I’m in the city.
I don’t even hear the hustle of traffic now, there’s just this narrow path with the cane margins on your side. I end under Santa Clara’s cloister, on El Sol street, where the visitor receive smiles form dog-owners. You could walk all the way to Sant Pau, it’s 30 minutes away. My mother would walk it every week in her teens.
(A. L. based on a 2011 text from E. Yeates)