Las ciudades / Joaquín Marta Sosa


I dont know if cities are also men as Oswaldo Trejo affirmed, but since long ago it unsettles me to know what remains of them for us, of the ones we've visited throughout life, which are many and some of which weren't worth exploring.

It's as though a mist, like the one surrounding the city where I am now, were taking over each one and only a few spots were saved, and I'm not referring to those tourist draws like the famous Parisian tower or the clock in London.

These move away from us in that rational place within memory between the catalogue and the habitual. Rather, I speak of those spots where we've ended up without anyone's recommendation, without heading there, but which we found, or which probably found us, and already the stay acquired a different spirit.

Sometimes it's a pensive street.

Other times a plaza behind a corner of paving stones.

Sometimes a bar, a café, a lost restaurant on the bend of a river, or a person with whom we develop a conversation.

And everything changes and that's what we're left with as an indescribable spiritual balance. It's like those novels or movies whose plot, years later, we've almost forgotten, but whose vital fragrance, whose persuasive language, whose pleasant clime, always returns us once and again whenever anyone mentions that city.

Our city within any city we visit is not in the guidebooks or in the tourism offices. That's the path everyone has trod so often it already sounds hollow, like a cold and empty cavern. The city we appropriate for ourselves, or, more accurately, which appropriates us is what we find within her of that city we all dream and which we keep building piece by piece throughout our life, thanks to no more than eight or ten encounters. How it dawns on that damp street, the rumor of bakeries on a certain morning, the Lithuanian cellist on the stairs of that subway station, the strengthening of a love that was fading, the cranes nesting in the heights of evening, that unrepeatable banquet, the conversation with a stranger who illuminated you and who you never hear from again. Such are the true and foggy signs of the cities that transform one of the deep layers of the soul. The rest is the quotidian and the same, visible, dazzling, but ashen as soon as you leave. The other goes within you and is what makes men cities as well, each one in his or her own manner.

{ Joaquín Marta Sosa, TalCual, 9 October 2006 }

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