In the city

by Raez Dupon

I woke up early this morning and gave my sister, brother-in-law and Matt a lift to the airport. It was quite a nice drive in the dark, we shared some funny comments about dad and the kid and we managed to forget about nostalgia and homesickness all along the way. At least, we did not talk about it — only when we could see the city lights my sister whispered: “I don’t want to leave.” But she did. They did, only half an hour later.

I wove them good-bye, got in the car again and thought about where to go. I should have attended classes today, I definitely should do my best to get in that dull mood again, but I guess I was way too sleepy for that, and today was Thursday after all. I suppose I’ll be back there next Monday morning if nothing goes wrong. So I headed myself to my sister’s flat in the city but before that I checked some of the CDs in the car — inside one of the cases there was a €20 banknote I had totally forgotten about. It must have been ages since the last time I listened to The Jam, I guess. I got home, watched a wonderful film I truly encourage you to see and overslept until three. There was nothing in the fridge -my sister’s place is now empty- and I had started to feel hungry, so I grabbed my wallet and the keys and decided to hit the streets. Once there, I thought a little bit starving wouldn’t do me bad after the whole Christmas excess so, instead of filling my face with cakes I took a walk to the city centre. I had been wanting to browse around the bookshops for quite a long time — stars aligned: money and time at my disposal. I went past the Notthingam-Prisa pub, which reminded me of you. Such a ridiculous name, isn’t it? Almost as bad as that of the Bar Celona, five minutes away from home.

In the city there’s a thousand things I wanna say to you. It is true: I will never feel myself part of this place, no matter for how long I walk around these streets, or wander. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t like them. She is a strange one to me, though I feel home when I’m close to the sea. I enjoy taking glimpses of the people’s faces, the clothes they wear, the way they move and react to the environment: they look different, they dress different, they walk different, they react different, they are different and for years I’ve been indifferent to all this, as if I knew I wouldn’t be staying for long, but it’s been more than a decade since I came here for the first time. I’m thinking of a change soon, rather soonish: Madrid, maybe? Barcelona? No matter where I’ll go, I’ll be scared to death, for I know myself and I know cities are nothing but monsters. Terrible, merciless creatures. They will gnash their teeth in rage at me, they will devour me dry, they will spit me back to where I belong. Would London treat me kind? Suddenly, I saw Concepción walking towards me. What the dickens?

Concepción is one of my professors at uni. She teaches a subject I should not miss by any means, but I have not seen her in two months. Now it was too late to pretend I wasn’t there, I was not myself. Too late for regrets? It has happened to me before. When I was a teenage, my father thought it would be a great idea to make me attend some German classes. “German is the language of the future” he would say after he got drunk with a detective from Hamburg who gave him some good advice and a pin with an Interpol banner on it. So I wasn’t old enough for English, but was already prepared for German declension. I was a true pioneer. Fifteen years later I don’t remember a damn thing of it. So ein Mist. I used to skip classes and spend the afternoon at a park nearby, until one day I met Katherine, the German teacher, a blonde woman as tall as I am and with the look of a Wagner’s goddess, at an alley around the corner. Shivering, I only managed to say: “I was looking for you.” Of course you weren’t, Víctor. It’s been months since the last time she saw you around. Are you dumb? My meeting with Concepción went slightly different. I was shivering as well, but this time I tried hard not to embarrass myself. I just said hello and wished her a happy new year. She smiled at me and continued her way down. I was so nervous I didn’t even realize I had walked past the bookshop, so once I noticed I made my way back, went into the shop and finally ordered Jenn Díaz’s Mujer sin hijo. Great expectations. I also thought I should try to write in English from time to time. How about once every week? If Concepción gets to read this blog some day, my damned soul and curriculum might still be saved.

I took the bus to where my car was parked. On it, two men discussed about women. One of them seemed to be kind of a womanizer. You might have a big dick, the other said. There was a girl by my side. On her face you could read You are a big dick. I smiled. I got out of the bus, bought myself a chocolate cannoli at a bakery, got in the car and headed my way home. In twenty minutes time, I too had left the city, which rested further and further behind.