Holaaaa Chiqui,

I’m late in writing again. Sorry about that. You’re getting hipper by the day and I, come fall, may find myself priced out. 1100+ days between us and many of my worries are the same. I wonder at the bags beneath my eyes, my ill-fitting clothes and my adequacy. We are still a lop-sided pair.

On Saturday morning, the upstairs tenants are fucking away. I blast meditation music and laugh. This is the longest I’ve ever spent in any one place and I know things now: how to fix a toilet, the best time of day for a sun-drenched nap, the way that woman sometimes screams jooooodeeeeer. I know how to keep the wind out–most of it, at least. I know when my wall-mates change, their sleeping habits and favorite songs.

Down on the street, however, I’m having trouble getting used to the new additions: yellow lights, frequent vocal fry. Come on, let’s get whoppers, a Kelly or a Hannah says. I’m aware that I may be part of this problem, OK? So you don’t need to say anything about it. The newsman is still there every morning at least, and likely long before I think of opening my eyes.

Things change, of course, and many of them for the better. Now, I work in a place where people are familiar to me. They worry about money and they wash their own clothing. Last week, a child told a story about the gorillas living in her grandparents’ garage–no one questioned the verity of this, and the presentation moved smoothly along. Well, as long as they are familiar gorillas, of course it is OK to approach them.

Tirso’s blooms are perennial but I mostly forget about them in the winter. Their openings and closings are measured, unlike mine. This is something that I am working on. Many are the mornings, afternoons, evenings that I have crossed this part of you. Sadly, happily, alone, accompanied, barely there. Today I bought a bunch of leaves and a bouquet of purple and white flowers. I don’t know their genera. I was also carrying a bag of groceries and a two-foot tall calathea.

“¿Puedes con todo?” the attendant asked me. “Can you handle everything?”

I think so. If you could just hand me the plant…”

On mornings like this one, it is a privilege to handle all of this.

Happy 3rd anniversary, Madrid. It is good to really see you again.

Love,

Seo

It’s Complicated.

I’m sorry.

I started taking things for granted, spending more time away, forgetting to open my eyes.

I should have written you nine months ago.

Out West, I worked with an Uruguayan. He was mostly silent during work hours, though sometimes he would recommend a film or crack a joke. When he’d had enough, he would remove his gloves, stash his scissors, put on a jacket, and walk out to the deck to watch the fog roll in. Usually, we followed. When he did speak, it was captivating. His rants against the Parisians (there is such a thing as “too polite”) and speeches on the benefits of ginger (it’s an aphrodisiac) could have filled novelas. When we spent a night at his one-bedroom city sanctuary, he gestured towards a loft bed: “That’s where Di and I used to sleep- in the beginning, of course, when love meant we didn’t need space.”

This year, the bed no longer fit the both of us.

inpieces_fayolle4
by Marion Fayolle

I needed silence and to catch my breath. Your energy, the one I had dreamt about, began to exhaust me and I started to worry that you and I were terribly mismatched. You shouted and murmured all day long; I sought balance but conformed, always with one foot in and one foot out the door. My tall chiquiño suffered the same way: he couldn’t recall which potted plant it was that had almost killed the doorman, nor when. He was chatting away about it, but I was late.

For the past nineteen-some months, I have run through and away from you. I can hardly recall the fall or the winter. It seems just yesterday that we were beginning again, the living-room empty, two bright orange folding chairs holding a place for the even uglier second-hand sofa I was about to buy. Now, we know each other well and not at all. Familiarity breeds discontent, if one is not careful. I stopped going underground until last week. Unsurprisingly, you were full of the same characters–they were just sweatier. The crazy woman who looks posh was still crazy, still looking posh, and still making animated faces at her Instagram feed from La Latina to who-knows-where. The modern-day-Goya-portrait-in-a-suit was still rotating his dress-pants  from blue, to black, to purple, and back again. All of us, every morning, were still stupidly racing to be the first on the escalator, eager to ease back into our office chairs, or at least avoid a dressing-down.

My claim is that I no longer have the time to love or enjoy you. As I dig moats into the sand on a Northwestern Nudist Beach, however, the thought of returning to you still feels in many ways like going home. We’ll change some stuff. I’ll work less, or not at all. You’ll be as open as ever. The train will feel like it’s going somewhere again.

I know we can work on this, Madrid. Happy belated anniversary ♥

Follow Your Heart and You’ll Always Feel Delirious

I love you under the rain and under the clouds and after midnight on Tuesday nights. I love you at lunchtime and on Sunday mornings before the hung-over crawl out from under their bed-sheets. I love you even and sometimes especially when I don’t, forgiving you your excessive escalators and stale Saturday winds.

I ignored you when we met. Skinny from silliness and afraid of everything, you were too wild for me, full of chatter. Five years later I hauled my suitcase up the stairs in Tirso de Molina. There was a light rain falling. Men were shouting and selling: paragua, paragua, paragua! I was lost but didn’t care. I would remember this moment for many months, especially while listening to shitty guided meditations. We stayed in a one room studio in Arganzuela. For three nights a madwoman banged trashcans and howled “Arabian Nights” beneath the window.

In August you were deserted. Queens with pencil-thin eyebrows smoked in doorways and danced chotis and I couldn’t stop smiling. The metro back was empty but for one sleeping woman. I looked up at the ceiling in my airport hotel and wondered what was wrong with me.

In September I had a bed and nowhere to rest my head. Waking up to you made me happier than I’d been for a long time. Sure I was lonely but I was also awake. Friends and strangers came and went. Gran Vía was a trap. I stumbled through January. Some nights the windows shook.

Last March, J asked what was wrong with me: why did I have to walk so far if the metro was right in front of us? It must have been one of those early Spring days, still cold enough for a coat, everybody falling in love. It took me seventy-five minutes to get home and I listened to Nino Bravo most of the way. Here he is, singing his way down the Paseo del Prado:


And there I was, trying real hard not to spread my arms out and sing right along with him. Maybe I should have. I’m here now only because I decided to honor impulse, after all. One year later and many are the afternoons that I still feel like singing up and down your hills.

Happy anniversary, Madrid.

Love,

Seo