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12th June

A labor of love

My journals are too high on my bookcase to reach. I need to go up a small ladder but my sense of balance never completely recovered after I had encephalitis. I wobble and strain to reach the books.

As always, Felipe found a solution. Several years ago, he had bought an eighteenth-century door from a hacienda in the north of Spain. The chestnut wood was dried up so that it split and twisted, but through many hours of work he managed to restore it to its original state. He then built a wooden frame with four sturdy legs and turned the door into a table.

Felipe brought the table from his workplace, lowering the table four storeys down through the window with the help of friends. He then padded it with blankets and secured it with ropes to the top of his car.

Now, while standing on the ladder, Felipe hands me the notebooks, one after the other.

I open the first page of each, finding them wildly out of order: June 21, 1978 in Mexico City is followed by November 19, 1987 in Houston, then April 6, 2008 in Barcelona, February 11, 2012 in Singapore, and January 17, 1984 again in Mexico City. I lay them out haphazardly on the eighteenth-century table in the library, one hundred and twelve notebooks. Forty-two years of my life.

I’m a bit uneasy about reading my journals after all those years. It’s not so much reading about the events themselves that causes this apprehension, but about the diary-writer I will encounter.

In all those past moments, was I able to see Felipe’s many small labors of love? The cheesecake he would make especially for me, the microphone he mounted on a pan lid on my desk because I couldn’t hold both the mic and the phone when doing radio broadcasts from Mexico City, the patience with which he hung and rehung and re-rehung our artworks after each move. His arm around me when I needed comfort.

Did I understand what all those gestures meant, or was I too absorbed in my own ruminations to notice?

I take up a journal at random, open the page, and look for traces of a story to tell.

A labor of love
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