September 27, 2005

En Valencia, La Noche

Dan got tired early and has to drive tomorrow morning so I took a book -- OLD MAN GOYA by Julia Blackburn -- it´s about when he was deaf and isolated and saw more clearly through the war and famine and starvation of his time than anyone else -- I went to the plaza and read on a bench by the fountain for an hour, then walked the streets book in hand -- what´s better than to be first becoming friends with a city you´ve never been in before? -- walked down streets whose names I didn´t know -- past cafe terraces where couples and groups sat over beer and wine -- past lone young men talking importantly on cell phones on squalid corners -- all in a foreign language, me grasping an occasional word as if hard of hearing -- ¨dies y cinco!¨-- and what´s sweeter than to plan your activity for the evening and end up doing exactly that? -- I returned to the Templo de Cafe where we´d been last night, la noche pasada, and ordered exactly the brandy I wanted, Duque dÁlba, the waitress smiling as she poured waiting for me to signal when to stop -- and sat for an hour reading -- smiling and joking with the waitress over the task of ordering and paying in a foreign language -- Spanish brandy and Spanish women being two of the world´s most serious intoxicants -- and back to the plaza which was now shutting down for the night except for isolated skaters and teenage/twentyish lovers (I can´t tell the difference anymore) -- another rich pleasure, that of pretending loneliness when you know you´re not lonely -- now I´m back in the hotel lobby just before going upstairs to bed -- I´ll be sleeping in the next bed to my brother Dan, my compadre -- I don´t know why we´re so close, why we´ve been friends for more than fifteen years -- we´re nothing alike -- -- but if I waited for a soulmate I´d be waiting till the next life, till the next epoch, and meanwhile the world is full of people worthy of love and friendship --

The church bells are ringing twelve. Good night, everyone.