Cuevano ~ Jorge Aranda

Back from León

Casa de la Cultura, LeonVal and I came back from León a week ago, after a much needed month-long stay. It was a bittersweet visit: I was delighted to see so many friends and family doing well, but while we were there, on January 2nd, my grandmother died of pneumonia after a long decay. I expected it to happen any day for the past few years (and, all things considered, I am glad she’s finally at peace), but I did not expect to be there to say goodbye.

With my father and grandmother, early 2008I find now that going back to my hometown makes me feel older—or rather, it lets me realize my age, the status of my generation. I have plenty of younger nephews and cousins that I can barely recognize, and to whom I’m only vaguely familiar too. “Do you know who I am?” often draws out a negative, as it did when I was a boy and some traveling relative (an Older Man, to my eyes) came to León on a visit. Many of my friends have left the city or are otherwise engaged in grown-up activities and worries: mortgages, kids, schools, and the like. And the city, of course, has grown and changed: I find it slightly unsettling and unfamiliar how the old paths I took no longer take me where I want to go, and how the places I want to go to are not necessarily there anymore. In Toronto, and now in Victoria, I’m somewhat removed from all this; having it all hit me at once is a bit of a shock.

With the Aranda-Greenes, this visitAnd yet it’s all good: seeing all these people and places, however different from those that I left behind on our previous visit, still brings out many of the same chords and emotions, the same aromas and flavours that are a part of me and that I didn’t know I’d miss so much, because I hadn’t learned to tell them apart from those of the rest of the world.