Text by Susana Medina
Translated by Rosie Marteau
14th February 1992,
Maybe because we’re nobody and a definite direction is nothing but a handy bit of self-deceit to stop us from losing our minds, I’ve chosen to situate myself in loss, a sound course, the chaos that embodies me. To have been there and done it, and yet to be undone. In this rural hotel room where so many travellers have left their dreams and something of their intimacies, a clean slate now peopled with the ghosts of others that probably wash over me so as to begin afresh, the romantic me listens to the odourless mooing of working cows, poor grazing numbers, although farmers claim each one has a name, just as we have names and numbers and we graze and produce milk, usually skimmed. Amidst this pastoral serenity, the confused me can’t understand why you didn’t want to go with Cookie, if she loved you to death, insisting unequivocal you’d never find anyone else like me, though you know all I really want is to abandon myself to poetry, the medicine that heals all my ills, not to mention your unbearable jealousy towards poets and my evenings spent with their words, the phone off the hook, when you appeared before me like a spectre pleading clemency, knowing everyone wants to be with Cookie and Cookie didn’t want anyone but you and all I wanted was to be with the poets, me the dreamer. And as you know, I’ve always brushed things that bother me aside as if they didn’t exist, but with you it’s been different, and if I cut your life’s thread, sorry for leaving my vagina dentata in your jugular, it was for my survival, to protect myself, because you kept trying to invade my every nook and cranny. Now here in this Welsh village, where there’s nothing to do but walk along mountain paths, look at your muddy reflection in puddles and catch glimpses of wandering spirits, the farmer cooks stews and says we city people always turn up with a face on, and when I go to my room, the solitary me, the farmer never bothers me and I can lose myself in reading, in the animal-shaped soaps I’ve brought and whose faces I like to disfigure gradually through use while thinking of you, until they have no eyes, noses or mouths left, the evil me, a little as though I’ve annihilated them and I’ve already made myself at home in this room, the nomadic me skipping from hotel to hotel, from identity to identity, from object of desire to object of desire, the empty hangers coming in handy for my black clothes, my kimonos, I’m anonymous here in the midst of it all, where I can abandon myself in the reading that fills my cortex with words and stare out of the garden window, deep in thought. And as you know, I’m always searching for something that I don’t find, because you weren’t the you I was looking for and maybe I’m not even the me that gave up anymore, because the farmer will be nothing but an erotic souvenir of my Valentine’s Day stay in this improbably named paradise in Wales:
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Why wouldn’t you let me speak?
19th March 1992, Madrid
Because you’re softening my will with the camouflage of that telephone smile of yours and when either of us hangs up, I rewind the tape and listen thousands of times over to the spirits of your voice until I memorise the pauses, the unfinished phrases, most of all your silences and then the dizzying echoes of your silences, because you please me, darling, because if I’ve come here it’s just to hear your voice from that bit closer, the timid me.
The hotel is a grotty dive, for only a dive of a hotel can boast not only views of a Moroccan in flames as people look on, the smell of petrol in the air, and a skinhead legging it with a toolbox and rug that belonged to the now-scorched guy, indifferent thanks to the relentless bruises he’s endured in the ebb and flow of a life condemned, but also a broken bathroom tap although the man assures me it’ll be working very soon, when I focus on the tap as if it was an object of desire, the water running spasmodically through the pipes and every time I hear a spluttering sound I jump, the neurotic me, sensing it’s going to bite me, though for the time being it remains impassive. I call reception ‘547 9321 please’ and quickly conjure up an excuse to listen to your sexy voice once more and I get the tape recorder ready which I always have at hand to record you with, because I always record every conversation, just in case, to study what people say and what they don’t. And then you answer and cleverly I say the following: it’s me, the amorphous me, I’m all possibilities, even the erotic ones, and you, disembodied like an echo I’m chasing, you apologise, I’m sorry you’ve got the wrong number, while I lovingly trace my tongue slowly over the receiver as if it were your ear, the erotomaniac me who dreams of licking you until you dissolve, and you hang up, and I rewind the cassette and ecstatically consume your words thousands of times like a drug, eventually finding something odd about your intonation as if you were tired or something, and then your final silence. And I could go to the Prado to see Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights, a triptych of eternal mirrors reflecting life, the moralist me demanding order, but today’s a Monday and it’s closed, and I think about the frenzy of solitary creatures in groups I’ve missed out on, although I’m sure, the obsessive me, that I’d really have gone, just as I always do, to visit the mad people in their tawdry-gilt crowns and the witches and especially Saturn devouring his children because I’m fascinated by the similarity between him and my father and the headless body I imagine to be me. But now the water’s coming thick and fast and I let it run and run, a drought-like thirst turned cerebral bleed: I’m sorry but you’ve got the wrong number, and I call back a moment later to check whether it really was and when you answer I hang up because you still might not know that I’m searching desperately for you and then I rewind the tape and listen, dumbstruck: hello? … hello? … hello?
1st May 1992, near Tenochtitlan
Hello? I was wondering whether you have a harder bed, this one makes a high-pitched screeching sound in the night, the lack of natural light is a shame and … It’s the only room with a double bed, if you’re going to break it I’d rather you went to stay at some other B&B, replies the woman much to our confusion. And the democratic me has just met you on the motorway 30 km from this abandoned town, the ardent me, and you look at me and smile, and I study you in return as a warm-up exercise, the calculating me. You look back at me. And I think of the hundreds and hundreds of bodies that have passed through this room, the hundreds and hundreds of bodies that have passed through my own body, realising now that I’m a hotel, a hotel room complete with a bathroom where they’ve all deposited their shit, their implausible embraces, their rehearsed words, repeating my name in a bed where they’ve all left their fluids, their pubic hairs and their mange, this really is the last time, in this overly soft bed with stiff sheets and in the windowless blackness I figure I’m going to start charging from now on, sick of all these bodies, so many bodies dying all over me as if I were a graveyard. Sick of hopping from one body to the next, it’s that scar on your cheek that’s made my mind up, this is the very last time, thinks the spiritual me wearing a Buddha print dress and I’m a nurse I say, too young you say, and you ask why, and in this dark life of ours, I’m sorry, because I’m utterly devoted to the thrilling shiver that transpires before the unknown, and I don’t want to know your name I reply, I just want to look at you, especially at that scar on your cheek sprouting a few hairs, sure I’ve never liked men in uniform, because you’re a policeman. And you look blindly at the shadow of a fish cast on the ceiling by the lamp and some wiring, and there’s a painting of the sea hanging over the bed, an absolute sea that could be a window leading to a faraway escape. And the childish me can’t decide whether to play doctors and nurses anymore, because they always think I’m nuts, especially when I get the nurse’s uniform out of my suitcase as I’m doing now and vowing violently to give you a suppository while you start hurriedly throwing your clothes on, I shout: HANDS UP. Because with some men it just comes naturally to want to give them a suppository as if they had some unseen illness, for healing is my mission.
9th October 1992, Paris
I’m not planning to get up until you come and kiss me passionately on the lips, I think sleepily from my solitary bed, from the chaos in my life, because I must admit there’s been some turmoil in my life of late, not least since I got the boot from the magazine for making up the exhibitions I wrote about, even falsifying the visual material using little mock-ups I’d made myself, the fraudulent me, and so I’m no longer a correspondent or anything now and I’ve decided to blow my last pay cheque on travelling the world until I find you, me with nothing but the clothes on my back, no luggage, in my yellow heels, having always felt like a foreigner wherever I go anyway, especially in my body, and I thought maybe you’d too be searching the world for me, this crazed world. But then if somebody else happens to come along tonight I might just close my eyes, although I wish it was you, for I can be weak-willed at times as you know, finding it impossible to stick to my intentions, my promises even more so. And as you weren’t coming I went out for a walk and at reception, the cabinet behind the desk hung with so many keys to so many doors, they told me they’d stay open all night, so I’ve been ambling through the deserted streets of Paris, as deserted as my existence and on my return, the night porter seemed so alone that I invited him for a drink in my room and he was only too happy to accept, but you know that I love only you. And as we talked of this and that, I happened to tell him I was really into Beckett, the existentialist me, and next thing I know he’s hypnotising me with a well-known bit of Bécquer from his school days: the soul that aspires to paradise searching without faith grows tired, a wave without purpose that rolls not knowing why, and know that if your red lips are scorched by some unseen blast of air, that the soul whose eyes can speak might also kiss with a glance, and when he looked at me I began to drift off once more, the sleeping beauty me irked by a pea from beneath the mattresses.