8 Minute Memoir: Billboards

I've been sitting on this for a while, because I'm not sure I can write anything interesting about billboards. I even debated skipping this day, but I figured I might as well give it a shot. 

When I was little, the bank my mom went to was next to Rock Liquor. We would often wait in the car while my mom went into the bank, and I was always fascinated by two large murals on the side of the liquor store. There was a painting of a bunch of people eating lunch in bright, summery dresses, and a poster advertising dancing in French. It wasn't until I was much older that I realized that the murals were reproductions of paintings by Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec, and not just liquor ads.

The other billboards I remember spending a lot of time pondering were the ones I saw in Spain as a missionary. As missionaries we spent most of our day out on the streets walking around, or riding the metro or buses. We saw a lot of advertisements and billboards, and since I was learning Spanish, everything was interesting. During the spring there was an election, and I was in a suburban area so we took a lot of buses back and forth on the highway. I saw a number of different billboards for different political parties and candidates, although I had no context for any of them and didn't really know anything about Spanish politics. I remember trying to parse the acronym PSOE, which stands for the Partido Socialista Obrero Espanol (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party). I think that experience exemplifies one important thing to remember about being a missionary--although you will live in a particular country for a significant period of time, there will be a lot about the history and culture you won't come to understand, especially since you do not get access to television and newspapers. You have to be careful not to make too many assumptions about things you know, because despite your deep experience living up-close with people, there is a lot of context you won't get until later.


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