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19th April

My passport to a parallel universe

I haven’t left Barcelona since the beginning of the pandemic, but in my imagination I’m regularly in Seoul, Singapore, Paris, and above all in Mexico where I lived for many years.

I notice that travelling in my mind feels more real now than it ever did before.

Perhaps imagination is like a muscle that becomes stronger the more you exercise it.

I have a little device to help trigger that imagination; on an open shelf in my bathroom sits the watch I bought especially for our last trip to Mexico, shortly before the coronavirus put us all in lockdown. I keep the Swatch with its bright red case and blue strap on Mexican time so that I can imagine what I’d be doing if Felipe and I were still living there.

When I get up in the morning in Barcelona, the watch marks midnight and I imagine that I’d be fast asleep in Mexico between the colourful sheets that Felipe and I bought when we just got together in the late seventies. It isn’t until the early evening here that my life in Mexico gets going and I prepare my radio broadcasts, go out to lunch at the Foreign Correspondents Club, or buy mangos at our neighborhood market.

I channel not only my desire to travel through my imagination but also the urge I’ve had my whole life to be in two places at once.

I experienced that a bit when I did my live broadcasts for the Dutch radio by phone from our home in Mexico City at two o’clock in the morning. A couple of minutes before I went on air I would be put on hold and, while waiting for my cue, I could hear people being interviewed on the ferry crossing the river IJ in Amsterdam on a chilly February morning.

While sitting behind my desk in Mexico—where the wide-open windows let in the air of a balmy night—I was also on the windy ferry that frigid morning in Amsterdam.

Just as I didn’t feel the cold and the rain in the Netherlands during my broadcasts from Mexico, in my imagination I travel without jetlag or air pollution; there are no delays or obstacles, no disappointments.

That watch, sitting between the toothpaste and a jar of skin cream is my passport to a parallel universe where, unlike in real life, everything is as I want it to be.

My passport to a parallel universe
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