Sunday, December 26, 2004

The City to Myself

Cafe Gijon MadridCafé Gijón, Paseo de Recoletos 21, est. 1888

There’s a lovely English couple sitting by the window overlooking the Paseo de Recoletos. They both wear beautiful grey hair: she, long and luxurious tresses and he, cropped short. The seem frozen in time, for in spite of their age, they are impossibly elegant, poised, youthful, smiles full of wisdom. He looks into her eyes gently and smiles knowingly as he pours another glass of white wine, as if they’ve had the same conversation a thousand times, and as if he would hear her speak again and again.

The waiter interrupts me with my first course, a Crema Bretona. Sitting here, a single woman, ‘singled out’ from the crowd, I write in my book in this café famous for its literary past.

I am a single woman always walking alone, eating alone, writing alone in this city of lovers. I feed on the lives of others, spy on their gestures of affection, observe the nuances of their body language.

I finish my meal of Trucha a la Navarra with a coffee and a slice of melon. I wondered what the lovers would do at 3 PM on a hot summer day in Madrid. Eat, make love and sleep, or simply linger in half-sleep with a belly full of pleasure.

I will walk instead. I will walk alone in the deserted streets of mid-afternoon and have the city to myself. I will walk alone, waiting for the city to awaken once more, for its pulse to quicken and carry me into the night.

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