The humidity of the park invited a quick walk, but this was a timeless reunion. I hadn't seen my friend Silvana for almost six years and we had to check how much we had changed after the pandemic and the threat of a third world war. From the Berlin park fountain gushed gray water that reflected the changing May sky, and the light exposed our duly sculpted crow's feet.
Silvana explained to me that she felt in Buenos Aires the same thing that usually happens to me in Madrid at dusk, when I breathe in the air of the end of the party. A galloping strangeness before the profiles of the new world has amplified the feeling of farewell to everything we are touching.
Silvana and I were born in the same year and gave birth for the first time at 31. We met at the door of an infant school; we were a couple of workaholics who closed their eyes when they danced soul. Then, to run out of breath exercising as women with seven heads was almost a will, a sweet masochism. There was so much to do that we licked the idea of the future like candy. We ran forward because it was the way to move forward without looking back. "Do it!", our mothers, teachers and literary saints had told us.
"When you grow up you want to be left alone", Alejandro Gándara had confessed to me a few days before. We were talking about his latest novel, Primer amor (Alfaguara), in which he narrates the story of the construction of desire at the age of 18 with a creeping beauty. The writer recalled that the actor Jean-Louis Trintignant said that from the age of fifty to sixty is when he was most afraid. Maybe it's an age where you think everything ends.
Silvana, Argentinian and descendant of Ukrainian Jews, and a servant, with twenty Catalan surnames, we feel more similar than ever, crossed by the same climacteric fires, identical guilts, and in mourning for having lost that talisman that - more than youth in herself – she gives the power to ride the waves with vision, audacity.
The so-called Generation X gallop into the experience humming the darkest themes of The Cure. We are not old yet, but we have been overtaken by the brilliant minds of digital natives who speak another language. We are exhausted by the mellifluous voices of auto-tuned contemporary music, the obsession with tattoos, or our children repeating the obvious or literally out of context. Our artistic parents, whom we thought were immortal, have been dying. But as creatures who drank from the postmodern chalice, we abhor lament. "Perhaps we are the missing link", Silvana told me, to whom her daughters criticize - like me - a fierce commitment to her job that has not changed over the years.
So many hours spent planting a flower and now this desire for an electric blanket to ease our joints. Time passes us by even if we manage to ride it between momentum and laxity. Last summer I read Des de dins (Anagram), by the recently deceased Martin Amis, an author who meant so much to my generation and literary dandyism. In its pages he recounts a creative block when middle age passed, and he suddenly felt he was done. And he refers to it as "a perverse mental period" and "a vertiginous collapse of confidence in myself", to end up defining it as anti-inspiration. This is what Trintignant was afraid of. Another fence will have to be jumped.