“She was one of a pair of twin sisters. Why choose this twin and not the other? The choice was obvious.
I felt she had an inner life….” Lucian Freud
Every arrival in Spain feels full of joy; every departure has been sad. My last goodbye was at the end of a November, at the end of an autumn. I reluctantly packed my suitcase to leave the warmth of the Mediterranean coast and the warmth of friends to catch a train to the cold wind of Madrid and then a long flight home to winter in California. As he drove me to the station, my friend Paco asked me which of two cities I liked better, Valencia or the Capitol? The question was difficult to answer. It was like asking: whose music do you prefer, Bach’s or Mozart’s? Or, which ocean is your favorite, the Atlantic or the Pacific? Absurd questions. So I answered, “Spain would be a sad place without both cities.”
Later, as the train pulled away from the farms and orange groves of the coast and then rolled across the austere plains of La Mancha, it seemed that Paco’s question had an interesting answer after all: Valencia is closer to my heart than Madrid because it is the city in which my friends are still alive. Paco, Toti, Maye, Isa, Manolo, Eduardo, Diana, Elena, Antonio, Isabel, Nacho and many others are still here, sharing our lives and friendships together. In Madrid things are different. My dearest friends are no longer on this earth; they lie beneath it. Two of them, Hieronymus Bosch and Albrecht Dürer, said goodbye more than 500 years ago. Another friend, Diego Velázquez died in 1660 and yet another, Francisco Goya, left us only recently, in 1828. The bones of all of them have long ago disintegrated into powder, but the worlds they painted when they were alive still radiate into our lives from the walls of the Prado.Read More