Thursday, 16 October 2008

The themepark of nostalgia

I will get round to filling in the empty weeks of my trip summary, but for now I'm in Guadalajara and feel like putting down something of my initial reactions to coming back here.

The moment I had imagined and fantasised about for years came at around 7.40pm yesterday. I sat in the plaza in front of the cathedral with my big bag, alone and contempleting being back. I didn't cry but my whole body jarred and quivered as I sat in the emblematic centre of Gdl, the place I remeber visiting after my first day of school, having a coffee with Sandra and Lee Ann on the way to a soccer game, buying Rachael a rose, ill-advisedly.

Afterwards I walked past Sandra's old appartment a few blocks north and then went to meet Darcy, walking a further 20 blocks north. We had a great chat and I felt happy to be back. Then we went out and got hammerred, as you do in these situations.

Of course, my thoughts here have centred around Sandra. Curiously my main reaction, driving into the city by bus was one of denial. I imagined that I might just see her again. That somehow everything that hat happened was a misunderstanding or a cruel trick. Every woman I saw of about 5ft 2in in the shadows of Sandra's barrio I thought might just be her, walking out to the shop. None were. Thinking about it in the light of today, I remembered that none of them had the walk that she had: "la camina Sandra" as I used to call it. She always strutted like a model and I loved it. Maybe being here will bring backmore memories of her.

It has already brought back general memories I didn't know were there. Mostly the prosaic sort like: that was my favourite cafe, people used to dance tango in that square some nights, I remember drinking in that bar. And some memories are funny: William from New Orleans with his diary and how I used to tease him: "Dear diary, James was being really horrible to me again today. And I wish Vera would understand the way i feel about her. But she doesn't love me like I love... etc".

I am happier than I thought to be back here, but sad in a slightly different way to how I imagined.

It only reminds me of the truth I learnt a year ago, and which Katharine L has been quick to remind me of lately: you never know how you will react to a situation until you live it.

Even as I sat in the plaza yesterday it was... 7.40pm, getting dark and busy as people finished work. I always imagined I would arrive there on a typical sunny Guadalajara day..........

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