Madrid, Spain

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This article is published in number 41 of Vanity Fair on newsstands until 12 October 2021

It is a page from a novel that struck me a lot. The novel is about a man who leaves Madrid to go and live in the woods. It is the spring of 2020, and the lockdown is also about to be declared in the Spanish capital. Man walks in the wilderness, reads the Don chisciotte and falls in love with a woman. He thinks about the virus, about the humiliation it entailed for the human species, remembers distant moments and asks himself radical questions. And talk to her, the woman he’s falling in love with. She is the one who at a certain point tells how she likes to walk around Madrid: «I know all the streets, all the neighborhoods, I know the whole city, but it’s not like that, no. Actually, I realized it’s impossible to fucking get to know Madrid. Who can know the thousands of buildings, streets, streets, lampposts, cellars, alleys, of a city like Madrid? Big cities are almost endless, I think about them many times when I walk around Madrid. I sit on a bench and start thinking about the spatial dimensions of Madrid, I think of it in square kilometers. And that’s when my soul calms down. Madrid, or any city, one or the other does the same, through that heap of houses and streets, of lost places, reassures me ». And then she says that she happens to write down the names of the streets that strike her: “I keep a kind of accounting, I don’t know what the hell it is, streets that seduce me, or that fascinate me, or rather infuriate me.” And then he starts looking at the houses from the street, and then he feels dizzy, he sees himself living in an apartment that is not his own, and cooking something in a bright room. The potential life! The life we ​​don’t live. The novel is called The kisses (Guanda). Manuel Vilas wrote it, and has two verses by Franco Battiato as an epigraph. Those where he says that the season of love comes and goes.

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