The process of forgetting feelings versus the process of forgetting people and place; could it be that although you never truly forget a person, because of time and space, you induce yourself or are forced to forget how you felt about them, and so that when you see them, you remember them, but you no longer have present those feelings that once inspired you to think you’d never feel anything like that for anything else ever again? Or are these resolute feelings authentic, but their passion is so strong that it astounds and clouds doubt of love over us? Could this be true about a city?
Or could it be that they rise up in you again once you have them close to you? Is it a matter of proximity or of time? I think it’s a matter of proximity. These feelings of love once exploding inside of me, are becoming dormant, but I know upon first contact they will explode, re-emerge and pour out of my soul…
When it comes to Mexico city, both person and place, my dilemma of love is in no way new. It’s been about seven months since I stepped on chilango soil last, and as I contemplate the urban sunsets over it’s downtown through virtual means and relish in the memories of it’s tastes and sensations, my love remains steadfast as I continuously live in a different context, in a different city.
Considering that Mexico City has always been a city of flux and migration, both internal migration from rural areas to the urban center, and international migrations, from Latin American professionals who flock to the largest city in the hemisphere in pursuit of opportunities for work and international tourists in seek of leisure, many people are perpetually arriving and leaving, always consuming and exchanging a bit of themselves with the city.
As an exchange student-turned-tourist-turned-adoptive-denizen of the city, I’ve met and encountered many people from all of the world who’ve migrated to the city in pursuit of opportunities to become more themselves – from writers to graphic designers from Venezuela, young students of politics from Colombia, musicians from Puebla, and free spirits and world-class mezcal drinkers from Sacramento. I’ve met people who, like me, are in pursuit of something distinct from the sameness found in U.S. cities, who plan to make Mexico City a more permanent home.
And in my journey from and between my many homes, I’ve met both lifelong and adoptive dfeños who always speak and refer to Mexico City as a city to miss. From pict(oral) histories exchanged in person and internecticamente, with stories that illuminate Mexico City of the past and present, from childhoods in Parque Alameda and nights out in El Centro, the sounds and smells and tastes are always preserved in synesthetic memories of once transients of the city.
These memories, this nostalgia, ultimately turns into a yearning and desire to return. In many ways, upon experiencing the city, the writers and designers and lovers and travelers are willing to, and ultimately do, return. It’s as if Mexico City marks you. It marks you with a love and an inspiration to love and live in a way that parallels the intensity of its urban life. It’s the simple things in the city that inspire a greater and more permanent, life-long love.
And it is despite the distance and despite time, that a love for a city subsists. Because however small and however remote the happiness remains remembered of our time living in Mexico City, it is the conjunction of all these that make for one of the most sublime lessons on love and life.
As the lyrics go for one of my favorites songs by La Negra Sosa and interpreted by Chavela Vargas, ultimately, uno vuelve siempre a los viejos sitios donde amo la vida. One always returns to the places where they loved life most. In that way, we are always returning.