Monday, January 2, 2012

Where Home Lies (Part II)

Today's theme: The Puddle Song (click here to listen)

The mind moves in mysterious ways, and that includes forgetting; seldom is the time in which we can remember the chronological progress of separate, non-relate events. In the picture of our memory, these appear as flashes, as colorful brushstrokes full of vividness on a hazy gray background, especially if these explosions of remembrance have an emotional component to them. Nothing will be printed strongly on our souls if we do not live through the lenses of our own emotions, of our own, ever-changing cloud of feelings. Such is the case of these little flashes:

A visit to the ophthalmologist... and my aunt.

Due to my imminent job with Tyler doing online TV, I decided to improve my looks and vision with contact lenses, and asked my father's friend for an appointment at his clinic. In less than an hour, I was walking around with a temporary set without the calibration for astigmatism. In less than day and a half, the clinic received two sets, each made in a different material, to decide which one would be the most comfortable of all. I was instructed to walk around with them for an hour and a half, and, just after closing time, I settled for the second set, much less wobbly than the first. The difference in optics, compared to my usual glasses, was unbelievable: not only I could scratch my eyes freely and touch the sides of my nose without creating an annoying imprint in my vision, but reality had a much more three-dimensional look. I could feel the soft, frozen breeze from the North around my eyes, not longer shielded behind glass.

On my first vision test, I visited Villafañe, my childhood's favorite cabinet of wonders.

On my second vision test, I walked up to Tejuelo, a local artisan print shop.

With my eyes shinier than usual, I went to see my aunt. And, as many of your relatives would do, the first thing she did was to take me out to the local supermarket to buy me some typical food from my hometown: cecina (cured beef), chorizo (paprika sausage), polvorones (almond sweets) and a very particular kind of chocolate on its way to extinction.

Very original Christmas window display at the local butcher!

All the Jamón (ham, prosciutto) you could ever want.

THIS is the stuff. My favorite. Similar to Kinder, but Spanish made.

We took her Mercedes A Class (not available in the US, an ultracompact) to the local cinema to pick up my cousin. My goodness, has she grown! Last time she was as tall as my waist, and now she was in High School, dancing ballet and fooling around with boys! We had a talk about what she wanted to do in life: she wanted to be famous, to model, act and sing. I suggested her to try the dramatic arts. Her little brother, cousin of mine too, was seriously invested in soccer. To the two of them I said, serious as a tombstone, to never let anyone discourage them in their career choices, no matter how ridiculous, as long as they invest themselves fully in their dreams.

A very inspiring ghost

With our belly happy and full, we headed to the living room. My aunt pulled out the photo albums. I found many pictures of weddings, of baptisms and first communions, but, as the covers of the albums got older, I found this:

Grandma (left), grandpa (right), mom (round head), aunt (wide open eyes).

Ever since I was a kid, I was always told about my grandfather, Ricardo, and how he made it in the Americas. As time went by, I not only learned that he had the same exact kind of glasses throughout his life, but that he was, much like me, in a constant discovery of himself by changing environments. He studied mathematics in the monastery of Carrión de los Condes (a historic hotel since 1992), but as soon as the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, he migrated to Cuba, where he almost starved. His lack of correspondence for a span of two years had made his family think he had died, but soon enough he settled in Mexico City, where he started teaching mathematics. His little academy got bigger, and he started adding room after room, hired teachers, added an extra floor, and another one... and, with painstaking sweat, blood and tears, he became the headmaster of the Spanish School in Mexico. One day I shall visit his legacy.

He died in 1980, so I never had the chance to know him or hear about his adventures. He was a terminal smoker; tobacco, in collusion with him being a workaholic, took his life. But still, to this day, I keep him in my mind as a great source of inspiration to guide me through the uncertainty of my life in foreign lands –aren't they all now- across the Atlantic. He is my guardian and my invisible mentor, and far greater of a driving force than most of my live relatives. Sometimes I wish that I could spend a day with him to speak about my travels and his, to tell him where I have gotten thanks to his story. He would be proud, wherever he is now.

Foreigner Superstar

My second and third days in León were mostly taken by a couple interviews by the local press, gathered by my father and the community of fans in his bar. One of them was the provincial newspaper (Diario de León); the other one was a magazine by the local chamber of commerce (Eco Magazine). The questions were pretty much the same: how life is in the USA, if it is hard to meet people, the hardships of the healthcare system, what kind of things I missed from home, what kinds of things the Americans could teach the Leonese...

The beautiful drive towards the newspaper's headquarters.

I was given a short tour of the offices at the Diario de León.

I was expecting a fifty-year old interviewer!

About this last picture, combined with this other one in NYC, is tempting me to rename my online journal, with complete honesty, as "Miguel eating amazing food, watching architecture and posing with women". Do you start seeing this trend?

The third (and final) chaper of "Where Home Lies" will reveal several locations from my years in León, explored in a walk around town with a couple of my very first friends. I will be leaving town tomorrow, so give me a couple days! Soon, in less than a week, I will be traveling to the Netherlands to meet three very special people. Stay glued to your screens!

1 comment:

  1. A journey to the deepest Leon, :)

    It was nice to see you again.