I'm a little slow today. I just switched to Sanka. So...have a heart?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Memories - white and hot.

Soon the April sun will beat down on the East bank of the Guadalquivir between the Punto San Telmo and the Punto Isabela, blindingly reflecting off marble tabletops and white granite terraced steps. When the weather turned nice, I deemed that siesta was a pastime better taken in the winter in Sevilla, when the house was a bone-aching 40 degrees, and one's bed, mummified in a sleeping bag, was the only place to ward off the constant downdraft of damp chill oozing down the cavelike plaster walls...

But come March and April, when the city exploded into sunlight and fragrant white blossoms that would ripen into abundant oranges that would strain the branches of every tree in the city, Siesta seemed like a waste - like curling up after a lunch of caldo de pollo con fideo, and rosquitos, and pan, and french fries, and salad and albondigas and palmeras... though an appealing idea, would rob me of some life experience.

So I would bid my Senora, Maria Jesus an "Hasta luego, Senora," guard myself against the intense light behind Armani sunglasses, and head out towards the River. And after walking up Republica de Argentina on the Los Remedios side, I lived in one of the tony areas of town, underneath the porticos that shaded us from the blazing sun, and past all of the stores, shuttered tight against the mid-day sun, I would amble through La Plaza de Cuba, under the Alcatel and Tio Pepe signs that nightly pulsed on top of the quarter-circular condominiums ringing the plaza, and I would cross San Telmo to the Paseo de las Delicias on the Santa Cruz side of the River.

I'd stride past the Torre de Oro, a 12th Century circular tower with a gold dome, towards my ultimate destination, and to this day, my idea of heaven -- Towards the wrought iron chairs and marbletopped tables where my friends would be sprawled out arms splayed and heads back, white sun glinting off their sunglasses, or huddled over some assignment that was only garnering slivers of their attention span, as traffic whizzed by, people bustled, and tour busses snorted past, laden with stupid-looking, camera-toting American tourists... Where I would find Christina and Lizzie and Ale and Melissa and Jackie and Amanda. We'd cordon off tables and set up camp - or I'd join camp already set up...

We'd stare across the river towards Triana, at buildings that Cervantes wrote about in Cipion and Berganza, and we'd watch children plunge fifty feet from the Punto San Telmo into the murky Guadalquivir below. We'd smoke, lazily, constantly, contentedly.

The sun was too hot, but not too hot. The kind of hot where you can feel it roasting and tightening your skin, but you wouldn't sweat...much. Round after round of red-and-yellow swirled Tinto de Verano (Red tablewine mixed with lemon soda) or dark Calimocho (Coke mixed with red tablewine) or Cruzcampo (Sevilla's local Pilsner) we would ferry back and forth from the green wrought iron gazebo bar. And the tube ice would rapidly melt in the highball glasses as we slaked our thirst and cooled ourselves from the inside, while catching a heavy, lazy, soporiffic buzz.

And we'd smoke. And drink. And sometimes we'd be engaged in animated conversation about the upcoming trip to Paris or Prague or Lagos... and sometimes we'd rag on whomever had fucked up biggest the night before... and sometimes we'd just sit, quietly smoking and quietly drinking, burning the memory of where we were at that very minute into our brains to savor forever, as we burned our faces, our necks and our arms. And sometimes we'd leave drunk, and by sometimes I mean usually.

I remember the light being so intense. The sun glinting off the green water of the river, off the white granite of the terrace, off the white marble of the tables, off the gold dome of the Torre, and off the white, red and yellow arches of the Plaza de Toros. Off sunglasses and hair, and linen shirts and condensation. The oranges so yellow against the dark green of their leaves, and the ebb and flow of traffic as life wound down towards almuerzo and siesta, or cranked back up again come five, as the sun would blaze towards the Plaza de Cuba.

And after we were good and loaded, and had soaked up all the siestatime sun we could manage, we would splinter off... down towards the cool shadows of the knot of streets we once knew by name, by location and by landmark, that sometimes flood back when savoring those golden memories, shot in the golden afternoon.