First there is a soft hubbub. The sound of families returning home. Girls and boys leaving extracurricular activities. The last rush hour of the traffic in the city center. City buses that swallow and spit people. Less and less people. The noises are disappearing along with the light, covered by that thick, golden thing, at the end of the days in autumn. Compostela falls asleep.
I count on the fingers of my hand: one, two, three, four hours. And the first groups of university students began to take to the streets. They are leaving for the first time since 2019. It is Thursday night. The capacity of the premises is reduced. Difficult to get input (although there are tricks, contacts). People are gathering outside, in front of the Ruta nightclub, in the expansion of the city. Concentration may or may not be intentional, it doesn’t matter. The noise increases. There is a bottle in the street, a swarm of laughter and screams. Large plastic cups, mixing bottles propped up in the corners, white light from streetlights and cell phones. It starts to cool down. Someone lends someone a jacket. Someone spills a drink.
I count on my fingers: one, two, three, four or more neighbors call the police to complain about the noise. And then barbarism occurs. The riot police arrive. Riot control to dissolve a bottle in a two-lane street in the center of Compostela. They hit them, scare them, scare them away. The next day there is a video that is forwarded in a viral way where we can see blood: small gaps opened on the meat that bleed a lot, a lot. Blood is like lava, it doesn’t obey orders. The mayor of Compostela, the socialist Sánchez Bugallo, says that “the necessary and sufficient force has been used to achieve the objective”. He proudly says that coexistence will be respected and guaranteed. Bugallo does not live with university students. Send the troops. Hit. I repeat: blood is like lava, it does not obey orders.
In March 2020, this country began a necessary confinement, essential, whose restrictions still last, they refuse to disappear. Then a war started. The language of war was everywhere, but especially in the speeches of President Sánchez. After that, the new normal was established, to which we are getting used to docile, like so many other things. Well, the girls and boys attacked and intimidated in Compostela were part of that same war, they suffer the same wear and tear compared to the norm. The difference is that, when the battle began, they, that is, we, were already tired.
I remember it perfectly, it was 2009 and we had just had an academic orientation session at the institute. The Biology teacher came into class and said something like: “What does it matter what you study? Anyway, there will be no work ”. In that sentence, the two sides of the prophecy: the freedom to do what we want and the assurance that, whatever we do, it will not turn out well. After that, over the years – more than a decade – we became what Elena Medel masterfully called, to refute the theory of the Peter Pan syndrome, “lost children”: those who assume an eternal childhood because there were no more option. The precarious, never the precarious. Those who wait for something to change. Those who are radicalized in the face of the lie of the middle class.
We, who were convicted a decade ago, are now followed by those from whom the pandemic has stolen some of their most precious years. Those who have seen political projects fail in which we did have hope. If we are children of 15M, this is the hangover of their grandchildren. We grew up in defeat. Let’s assume that not all years are worth the same. If we are willing to say that childhood is the homeland of man, adolescence has the charm of a night that never ends or that of bodies exposed to the July sun without protection, unaware of the life they keep.
We were, we are tired.
During last summer, the press and institutions were in charge of criminalizing the nightlife of the youngest. It was never tourists who generated outbreaks. They were never over thirty, over twenty-five. A story was created where the enemy to fight was the irresponsibility of adolescents. We forget their sacrifice, their loss, their exhaustion. The political, public discourse prefers to condemn bottles instead of talking about the increase in suicides, about how the leading cause of violent death among youth has to do precisely with a weak health system and a sick society. With fatigue. The establishment prefers to send riot control instead of enabling leisure spaces. Leaving them last in vaccination priorities for months. It is more comfortable to hate them, to submit them to authority, than to pay attention to their needs, to dialogue. The pandemic is on its way to becoming a unique opportunity to cancel them.
There are those who have plenty of youth. They want it to pass quickly, to be less annoying. It said: blood is like lava, it doesn’t obey orders. Blood sweeps. It is enough that a breach is opened with unusual violence in the head of a classmate. I’m counting again on my fingers: one, two, three, four millennials The postwar period arrives at dawn at the empty Plaza del Obradoiro, the empty center of any duly gentrified historic center in a Spanish city. They are filling the space. They laugh, they move, they drink, they disobey. They also bother there even if there are no neighbors. It could happen next Thursday. Anytime. We could decide to be alive and show them our teeth. Do you hear us?