My Favorite Neighbor: An Almost-Centenarian
A few months ago, while waiting for the renovation to finish, we moved to a very tiny village, a hamlet of… less than twenty people, I guess? My girlfriend and I have never been so happy in a place as we are here. Of course, there are many cons, e.g. extreme humidity when it rains (visible even on a ream of paper that wrinkles!) or definitely lack of room… But the silence and the tranquility of this place are priceless. We really do hope to enjoy the countryside as much as here also in the future house.
Our "landlord", if we want to call him that, is a ninety-six years man who lives in the same building, in a separate apartment. He wakes up every morning at 3 or 4AM, has breakfast, and prepares himself. When he stands up, he always grabs his walking stick for a moment, but then he could drop it, as he starts walking straight at an impressive speed! What is also very fast is his brain, luckily for him. He understands almost everything, and this is my great luck: we can converse a lot.
I've always been a chatter, especially with my grandparents. When I was a teenager, I lived on the same block as them, and after school, I often went to play with my younger cousin, who lived also there. While waiting for her, grandma and I had conversations about this and that – these are among my favorite memories about her. I LOVE1 listening to old stories, especially real ones from the past, from the people who lived them. So, you can imagine my pleasure when I discovered that my new neighbor loves to talk.
Every week or so, we spend about half an hour chatting about his health, the life in the village, his customs, the house we're renovating, some news, … When I get confidence with someone, I may tend to be a little chatty, but that is perfect with his tendency to repeat the same stories. 🤣 Jokes aside, I might be long-winded, but I consider myself a good listener.
I enjoy listening to elders' stories, recommendations, anecdotes, … even legends from the woods around here, sometimes! I also really like to hear them speaking in dialect because I’m not very good at it – I can understand it with almost no issues, but speaking it fluently is another matter. For me, it's important to learn as much as I can from these people because there is a lot of knowledge that will just… disappear with them.
I know it will sound silly because I’m just thirty-five, but in my view, most of the young generations (my contemporaries too) don’t care much about what elders can teach us. Also, they don't care about the lore they hold, often just in their memory, and we risk losing. History repeats itself2, and we should not play deaf. Now, this will sound even sillier, but paraphrasing a music album: it could be so much better if we’d listen more often.
🎮 The beautiful Death's Door
🎧 Orion by King Buffalo
📖 The Forest by Edward Rutherfurd