I awoke thinking about home, about Madrid. As I turned off the alarm clock I knew only seven hours stood between me and my own knock at the door of my parents’ house, my younger brother’s brisk shy hug as he popped by with his girlfriend for dinner, my three-minute stroll to the nearest Metro stop and my next thick boozy merry many-coloured night. Though I was drifting slowly past the age where it is acceptable to look forward to sleeping in the room one grew up in, it was hard not to yearn for that sauna of familiarity, for such compact intimacy with the protracted genesis of myself. It was laughable, I thought as I fastened my bathrobe and walked downstairs to the shower, to think that I could belong in the damp-creaky shared house my college put me up in during the stretches of time I absolutely, positively needed to be in Cambridge. It was comical to expect that the succession of fire doors and fluorescent lighting could evoke any warmth in a human body endowed with the capacity to feel. It was excessive to make me neglect my own guttural disgust at being away from the friends I drank with, the women I slept with, the names I recognised in bookstalls, the nothing-trees lining up anonymous patches of cello-cord boulevards. And it was impossible to let go of the thin crumpling in the pit of my stomach when I arrived on a dark winter evening -the Stansted Express huffed intermittently through the night- in that city where silent bicycles slid under creased windswept floodlights.

But no longer, I thought as I turned on the hot water. I had recently received permission to spend the following nine months carrying out research in the National Library in Madrid; and so this farce of perambulating through the U.K. could stop for now, for a while, for just about enough.

It was only then, with the fog spreading steadily through the window-panes, that I realized that this was the language that I was thinking in, y no la mía.


[Cambridge, noviembre de 2012.]