I’ve brought just a light suitcase. I don’t need much. At home, whenever someone visits for the first time, they always comment on my lack of possessions. I won’t list what I don’t have, but I will say what I do own: a pot, a bowl, a spoon, a copy of Montaigne’s Essays and Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, a pillow, a toothbrush, a towel. Wherever I go I take these with me, I pack up my house and I wander.
Each May I visit my friend Irene, and her husband Javier, who is mostly absent and involved in some kind of finance. I am there to visit Irene. Jessica comes as well, and Pavel, and Smilla, and Karl. We have been doing this for well over a decade.
I arrive early – three days early. Irene doesn’t mind. Javier isn’t there. Javier is short and solid, he wears excessive amounts of cologne and lots of gold. I am perhaps trying to minimise him because I sleep with his wife for one month out of every year, and I admit that this makes me feel superior to him, even though I suspect he knows and am sure he doesn’t care. Where does this need to be better than him come from?
Irene and I eat dinner that first night in near silence, companionable silence. Salmon baked with red onion, olives, tomato, capers. At home I eat beans and rice – at home I often forget to eat.
And then we talk. The sun is finally setting over the rooftops in Madrid, and already the air feels both tense and light with the anticipation of tens of thousands of people descending upon cafes and restaurants. I love Madrilleños, their enthusiasm, engagement, their loudness. Irene says to me that things are changing and that the world we know is fading away. But that can’t be right, or if it is, then her and I believe in different worlds. I smile at her and pour another glass of wine, and ask her again to tell me about Vilnius.
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The above piece of writing comprises part of my fragments project, some of which are available on this website. I intend to add new fragments piecemeal, not in any particular order, and as the occasion take me.