take the “bulevar” route


There are certain streets in Chamberí that I always associate with my childhood, streets that still exist and have preserved their old names, none of them particularly resonant now, or perhaps the names have simply grown inconsequential because forgotten: Miguel Ángel, Génova, Sagasta, Zurbano, Luchana, Zurbarán, Almagro, Fortuny, Bárbara de Braganza, Santa Engracia. And Covarrubias. The streets may still exist, but, in large measure, they have also been destroyed. That area, which is now home to so many banks, was once full of small eighteenth-century palaces and mansions with high doors and imperial marble staircases. I certainly didn’t live in one of those, but they were the backdrop to the walk I went on most frequently with my brothers, hand-in-hand with my mother and with Leo, our highly imaginative maid, who had us believe that she was the girlfriend of the soccer player Gento (a popular idol at the time) and told us apocryphal stories about Laurel and Hardy. Or else with two worthy ladies of Cuban origin and accent, my grandmother and her sister, Aunt María, who would accompany us ironically and excitably to one of the nearby movie houses.

more from Javier Marías at The Threepenny Review here.