Inspect the yellow street signs on the building corners of Presz for the names the old family patriarchs. The block of Ferroc runs parallel to that of Vedyla, Vedyla to Jerezsa, Jerezsa to Almien, and so on and so forth. These men governed each block and ensured that the abutting streets remained safe and clean. Their families grew large through marriage, sometimes assuming an adjacent block, and their houses became small villages in themselves, several stories high, with parapets and walkways and gardens in between the rooms. Each block had its painted exteriors, where the families sold goods – wine, cheese, olives, carpets, and the like – and its interiors, where the communal kitchens and baths served as a center of gossip and children clustered and lounged in the shade.
Life in Presz has changed. No one knows exactly when or how, but over time, the families became diffuse and their lives incompatible. The marriage laws seemed too rigid, the communal kitchens became filthy, and the wives estranged. Suddenly, strangers began renting rooms overlooking the street corners while butchers and cobblers with tenuous attachments opened shops mid block. Many left the city blocks of Presz for other cities and villages. Others stayed, islands in the blocks their forefathers had built, amid the vacancy, the strangers, and the slow, ebbing changes.