Thursday, 10 November 2011

Postcard from Seville

Many generations of tiles in the fountains of Sevilla Alcazar

Written from Sevilla, Nov. 1, evening: 

In the lobby of Hotel Murillo I sit in a comfy chair and feel the cool air whisk through the sliding glass doors behind my back. I feel them before I hear them, the people passing inside, my fellow tourists, middle-class travelers from everywhere, chattering in Dutch and Danish, German and Spanish and broadest Michigan. In the beautiful twirly-carved mirror a girl stops and looks at her pretty brown shift. She pulls her hair back from her face, grasps it into a ponytail. She wears Keds with her dress. She glares at her nose. I want to tell her Yes, she is beautiful.

Seville cathedral, in non-revenue hours
Here with me in the lobby is a Portuguese or Brazilian girl, chattering with two-dimensional friends on the other end of her I-Pad. And another girl who looks very much like the others, in a wingback chair, speaking into a mobile in rapid-fire German about what she had for lunch. The programmed stereo overhead plays an over-arrangement of some vaguely familiar top-40 hit from Air Supply or Oasis. It is rendered unrecognizable. No one cares. 

The doors whoosh open and the football game howls from the bar across the donkey-wide street outside : “Gooooooalgoalgoalgoalgoalgoalgoal! Bells peal overhead  from the convent in the next street. Who knew the Carmelites were Real Betis fans?

Two suits of armor stand by. This music drips over them every night at this hour, but they stopped hearing it years ago. They do not understand a single word of us. They do not see more German beauties arrive, and another Portuguese in full makeup, her lips a perfect Deneuve. They all are so beautiful. No man is safe tonight in Barrio Santa Cruz! I take a photo for them with the silent armor. They shriek and squeal and grimace. Their lives are peaking just now, for all I know.

Patrick and I are on a short holiday in Seville. For two months I planned these five days. It is not easy for us to get away – a friend came from England to stay with our dogs and cat and chickens and canary while we were gone. I had to drive four hours to get her from the airport in Asturias, and I will have to repeat the journey when I get home. We have to make this count.

Seville is beautiful, but I am not enjoying it so much. My mind is not on where I am. So I came to the lobby, to exercise “being right here, right now.” Being present. Stopping all my stories from the past, and expectations of future days. Just to sit here, and be, and let Paddy have some time off from me too.
Paddy bought a new hat in Córdoba.

I don´t want to be in Barrio Santa Cruz in Sevilla, even if the whole rest of the world is SO here. I want to be at home in Castilla. I miss my animals, my kitchen, my corner of the sofa where I work. This morning, at the over-the-top 1929-world´s fair Plaza de Castilla, we looked at the little tiled stall that housed the display for Palencia, our rather backward province. Laid out in ceramic tiles on the floor was a map of the place. And over to the far left, right beneath a glob of chewing gum, was emblazoned for all of Spain to see and marvel at: MORATINOS. I took photos with my telephone, but I do not know how to upload those to Blogger. Otherwise, you all could marvel, too.

For the first time in many years, I am homesick.

In one of the most beautiful, metropolitan, soulful cities of Spain, I long for Moratinos, a nowhere town in Palencia, a forgotten, depopulated province in Old Castile.

Nobody goes there on purpose. There are no beautiful or historic buildings. Everyone here has planned and budgeted and looked-forward to this moment. They are so ready and so dressed and so beautiful. I wonder what their dreams are for this place, what they envision happening out there in the narrow streets this moonlit night. But I do not wonder long.

They can live their dreams. It is time I lived mine. I have walked miles today, and I will walk more tomorrow. Time to summon the lift, and interrupt Paddy´s solitude, and tuck myself in.

It´s a pisser, being a hermit/pilgrim on holiday.
Because holidays are so full of expectations, the very thing a good pilgrim is supposed to foreswear.

A truly happy Patrick


Tracy Saunders. said...

Lovely pic of Patrick. Yes, I can actually imagine the homesickness from a different perspective: I just returned "home" from my home to be in Carantoña and I am already missing the soft dampish air, the smell of the fresh hay/donkey in the stable next door and the swoop-swoop sound of the wind turbines on the hill above.
I think I have found my Moratinos, don't you?
Can't wait for you to visit, but I won't keep you TOO long... X T

Anonymous said...

I am so envious of Paddy with the animals firmly esconced on his lap...yep, there is something so soothing about Tracy's Gallcia or my Inverness....there's no place like home, even if it's all decked out in tiles and smiles and music...

love, k