(From the ground floor to the terrace of the building where I live, there are 120 steps. I go up and down three times every day. I look for the step, the breathing, more than a physical state, a physical stay. As with these texts.)
And suddenly, in the perspective of these days where the unreality of our daily lives cracks to show the reality of the details (the parts, the fractions are true, not the whole: the whole is just the story we need, the law of gravity that prevents our universe from doing without us), suddenly, then, we discovered that making a bed, lighting a stove, regulating the temperature of the water in the shower, are innocuous tasks. Time becomes visible. And the time you see is untimely: a cotton stocking turned inside out, with all the lint exposed.
They go round and round the rooms, between annoyance and hubbub. No one knows better than the five or six-year-old chicxs: the direction we attribute to time is the arrow that points to the heart of our fear.
In any case, it is not necessary to dramatize, it is not necessary. Do we have to choose every day what clothes to wear? What criteria do we use to do it? I wear a red shirt because it matches the living room armchair where I am going to sit and read. I camouflage myself. Is there something superficial about that that we can rule out? Is it superficial that we have to discard or the meaning that we want to assign to it at all costs? I look at the open closet. When I look inside the wardrobe, the wardrobe looks inside me.
Sunday afternoon. Surfaces conspire. The proof is this helicopter noise that is as if the silence had a loose screw, those sirens that approach and never arrive, that move away without leaving completely. Do I have to line up, do I have to try to go unnoticed, as Girondo would say, between the furniture and the shadows? Thought is the pulse that gives me away. The loose screw of the silence that inhabits me, the sirens that surround the accident that I am without ever addressing it. This accident. This improbable event. That is what I have to remember. That I am unlikely.
Going shopping is usually a wasted time of day. Today, on the other hand, standing on the sidewalk one meter from the one that preceded me and one from the one that followed me, under a strong sun, I felt it as a moment won. The impulse presented itself without my expecting it. Something active, invigorating: the desire to read. It would have been the best time of day to do it. I didn’t have the book with me, but that led me to think about all of us standing in line. Suddenly I imagined rows of readers, of concentrated people studying mathematics, learning to make a clay oven or noting on the edges of a manual the key and transversal points that will allow them to understand a language that they do not know. One meter forward, one meter back. A strong sun. We cannot concentrate in our homes and so we went out to buy a lemon, a hundred grams of mortadella, a glycerin soap and, covered by that wait, that future and very small transaction, we became absorbed. We are unlikely.
Be absorbed. In this isolation the “self” is more difficult to find. We have no references that allow us to see with relative clarity where we start and where we end. What we are and what we are not. I don’t want to hide among my relics. These days anxiety thickens the air and we float in it. And anxiety is an unnecessary appropriation of the world.
Red spine book, blue spine book, twenty centimeter bronze cat, another bronze cat that seems shorter because its head is tilted (and then it not only looks lower, but closer to movement, as if it was stalking the possibility ), lamp, glasses that are not what I have on. Book, book, cat, cat, lamp, glasses, Ricardo. Substantive is an aerobic exercise. It is also an act of faith.
The terrace. I go up two or three times a day. Sometimes just to read or do an exercise drill, sometimes with Victoria, the dog, and a little green ball. I go up to hang the clothes and take them down. Sometimes I run into a neighbor and we chat about the inevitable topics. Yesterday we were several and in the middle of the conversation, of those conversations in which no one participates at all, while each one looked at the alien dog or those enigmatic Adidas that have been hanging on the rope for four days, I realized that I was looking for something. I had approached the wall on the edge of the terrace that must be a little more than a meter and a half. The body of the building is internal and is in the center of the block, so I have to guess the layout of the streets by the trees. I can only see a stretch of Brazil through the esplanade of an outdoor parking lot. And that’s where I looked, because we shouldn’t underestimate what the streets do to our spirits. A cyclist passed. Did you expect that a cyclist to pass? No, it wasn’t that. In the section of street that I can see, in front of the two-leaf portal of a BGH building with a ministerial air that has all the blinds down, there is a lantern for public lighting. It was on. Seeing him, I realized what I had been looking for when I looked out. It was sunset time and he had wanted to see the moment that light came on. What were you thinking about when it happened? I can’t remember, only single phrases come to me said by the neighbors, by Victoria or by me. Although I was looking at her, the light came on without me noticing. I looked up and gazed at the sequence of houses and buildings opening in a long perspective. First one, then two, three, ten, twenty-five. Lights in the windows. Third floor, fifth floor, tenth floor, second floor. Kitchens, bedrooms, living rooms, bathrooms, stairs. Some went on and off again. There were shadows running through them. The behavior of the lights has the consistency of what does not need to be explained, of what seems to need no human intervention: it happens and will continue to happen when we are not there, lights on, lights off throughout the city. We can empty ourselves into them (I write “the behavior of the lights” and I feel a static in my fingers that satisfies me). Today I am going back to the terrace. I want to be attentive to the light of the Brasil street, I want to see when it turns on. I also want the Adidas shoes to continue to hang on the rope.
I have a task: to clean the baseboards in the places where the dog lies. There are three places, and the dog goes through them according to the time of day and our position in the department spaces. There is something choreographic in his walk, a courtship of respect and affection. Being at home is not a problem, it is the awareness of being at home that entangles. Paco looks at me from his noon corner. I take on the choreography and watch it from mine. These words are my socket.
It is not necessary that I go up to the terrace to empty myself in the behavior of the lights. It also occurs within the department. From the breakfast bench, with the cup of coffee in hand, I just have to have the patience to perceive the changes in the morning light that comes through the kitchen windows. Not the movement. Movement is only the visible side, the trap into which I inevitably fall. The fascinating thing about light is that it has life but has no heart. It does not need any emotion to justify it.
A meter away, the faces of others become important. We looked at each other as if we knew each other somewhere and couldn’t remember where.
A meter away, the faces of others become suspicious. We look at each other as if we were wondering, who is dreaming this, you or me?
It is difficult to imagine this Sunday sun over the empty city. It is difficult to imagine the empty city. It worries me and fascinates me, I don’t know how to relate to it. Where do you enter this city? Am I outside of it or am I part of this spell? I am part of it, I assume, and the moment I do, an unmistakable clash of dishes reaches my ears. I remember, I imagine, I predict: it is the morning of a Monday or a Tuesday in the fall. Mid April, say, 20 degrees, sunshine, breeze from the south. A beautiful morning in which I have gone out to do paperwork in the microcenter. I’m done and I’m in high spirits. And good spirits whet my appetite. I enter the Paulín café, at Sarmiento 635. I sit on the second bench on the left side of the U-bar. I don’t have to think about it. I order an omelette sandwich with watercress and a beer. I shrug in front of the mirror on the wall that covers the entire other side, absolve myself. And while I wait, I admire myself again for the speed and skill of the man who, inside the horseshoe of the bar, accommodates and distributes dishes and drinks. He is tall, with long arms and big hands, but that, more than hindering his work, allows him to reach all corners without moving. Talk to one, talk to another, claim on the microphone. The dishes chime, slide, get where they need to go. I focus on his speed, I sense the exaggeration. He is fast, yes, but he also pretends. Or rather, he unfolds to be able to contemplate his speed as much as I do, and then in that contemplation his skill acquires style. I savor the omelette sandwich with watercress, the beer. At some point, without looking at myself in the mirror, I shrug my shoulders again, absolve myself. People go in and out of Paulín. The city is never empty. The Sunday sun is never entirely true. Somewhere, the man from the Paulín bar performs his juggling for himself and in his skill time and space ring, slide and get where they need to go.
Rainy day without rain, day that proposes but does not have. Also, hangover day. Extraordinary experience, dissolving in the atmosphere. Suddenly opacity and transparency are the same thing, there is no contradiction. Is that the mentioned nirvana? The problem is sentimentality, its guilty and productive engine, its vain purr. Because sentimentality is an inflation of the self, what else. This is how it falls. I could sort drawers, arrange the library, talk to someone I haven’t spoken to in a long time. No. I’m going to let instinct, which I never say, run through me. What do I experience when I watch a sunset? I experience that something happens independently of me. Now it is as if all the time I was watching a sunset. This evening.
“I’m going to let instinct, which I never say, run through me.” Of course, not the epic instinct for survival, but rather the lyrical instinct for permanence.
It is nine o’clock at night. It’s half past nine. From the stone tower where I hope something changes, I become judgmental. Looking out the window always makes me judgmental, especially if what I see from the window is another window. A sentimental flycatcher continues to haunt me. Possession, obvious materialization of desire, constant sublimation of the present, nostalgia for the past as a projection towards the future, nostalgia for the future. Sentimentality is one of the most effective liturgies of capitalism, because that god always responds.
Epiphanic moment. Autumn was revealed not in the change of weather, in the expected rain from yesterday, but in retrospective reflection, in the fleeting balance that these days accompanies the act of dressing up after the shower. I realized that I had only been wearing shorts for over a week. The move to long pants, even if it was a torn jeans, had something inaugural, like he was a boy from yesteryear entering maturity. Putting on stockings added up. For a moment, tying my shoelaces, I felt like a man who knew what he was doing.
The problem is that each house, each apartment, each home is a convention. And this soft closure puts that convention in check. Family forms revolt under my watch. They don’t want to continue being what they are, they don’t want to continue being for me, respond to my level of demand. Not even the body convention holds. Yesterday, a little while ago, when I tied my shoelaces, for a moment, I felt like a man who knew what he was doing, until I realized that he was already on the third shoe.
What if the issue was to disarm the frame? Wearing a patch over one of the eyes, as if peeking through a keyhole. Cover the left one day and the right one another. Sabotage the synthesis. Letting a rambunctious poetic trip me over the doorframe and my hunger for predictions.