In the book, Eat Pray Love, Liz Gilbert tells us a city or a place has it´s own name.

At times her book was hard for me to read.  Parts of it I adored.   Parts of it I did not.

She loves Italy and gave it a name.

I concluded, on this point, she is right.

Cities do take on their own name.  They have their own personalities.  They take on their own particular characteristics.  (Like Vegas is an adult Disney World.  A sin city.)

But at this moment (and after a week of thinking about it) I cannot name the city I am now in.

I can only bring myself to try and describe it.

This city is Madrid.

I want to state that I have visited this city more times than Detroit.   This statement might be true.  I am not entirely sure of it   I crave Madrid.  I crave it like I crave Spanish wine, cafe con leche, Spanish tortilla, Picasso, Miro, Salvadore Dali, and paella.  I want to drench myself with sangria full of fresh cut lemons and oranges poured from those out-door cafes.  I have a deep want for a hard slice of bread with egg and raw salmon.

Madrid, like a cafe´ waiter, holds out sounds plucked from cellos and Spanish guitars.  The sound flows in and out of tabernas displaying tapas of jamon and queso.  He is standing there wanting me to attend Real Madrid´s futbol match or to take me to see his corrida.  He holds out his crystal place and the retiro full of ducks, swans and sunbathing turtles.

Madrid does not stop here.  He trays out crowds of people mingling in his streets. His men are often dressed in pressed buttoned shirts.  They have belted, sharp ironed pleats in their slacks.  Their dark hair nearly touches the top of their collars.  They have smooth olive skin smelling of man, sweat and musk.  The women are more beautiful than their men.  They have thick wavy hair and matching eyes. They wear heals higher than their skirts.  They smell of perfume and only the expensive kind.  The metro stations are littered with African vendors blacker than my morning coffee.  They sit next to their blankets full of sunglasses and knock off bags and purses.

There are your oddities too:  a midget selling lotto tickets, a man with cut off arms with a cup in his mouth nodding up and down to petition you to add more to his euro collection.  The rattle from this cup provokes a pair of men who kiss for a subway display.  A transvestite asks for change.  He (or maybe a she) wears bright neon socks with a splash of rouge and bright blue eye shadow.  A glitter handbag adorns a muscular arm. The streets are littered with tavern papers, discards of cigarettes, and petrolume fumes from taxis, motos and autobuses.

This city asks me about my tourist map.  He wants a light for his cigarette.  I want to know the time. His wrist holds a heavy metal watch with a big round face.  In this he lets me know I have the most beautiful and unusual color of eyes.  I wonder if his name is Miguel, David, Pablo, Jose or if he is a Daniel or an Alberto.

This is as far as the flirtation goes.  This is the beauty of Madrid.   A place where eyes meet and dart or they hold their gaze.  Where you find yourself invited to a party from a person on the metro you have never met.  In a unplanned evening you find yourself in a distant barrio sharing stories with actors, waiters, and educators from places you have never even visited.  They share their food and drink as if you are life long friends.  They kiss both of your cheeks and want to share their music and stories. They don´t want you to leave.  You find it´s four in the morning and the metro has stopped running.  A sidewalk and taxi carry you to your hotel after a night of merenge and flamenco.  They want you to sing and dance to their Elvis and their Beach Boys.

I crawl back to my hotel room like I crawled back to my U of M dorm when I was engaged.

There is no measure of time here.  It drags on.  It quickens.  At moments it completely stops.  A siesta in a king sized bed is nakedly waiting.  Before the warmth of the sun leaves your skin you realize it´s nearing  nine o´clock in the evening.  Time for a dinner in an open lighted restaurant in a Plaza near the Palacio.  The waiter brings foreign labeled bottles full water, beer and wine.  He brings gazpacho, arroz, langosta, and champioñes.  In the end I am aching for a cigarette.  Madrid´s open face watch is nearing upon midnight.  Families are still out taking an evening walk. Babies are asleep in their carriages.  Married couples loop arms and street music follows behind them.  People live and continually move in these streets.

The sidewalks are the same and have not changed since my last visit.  They lead to the same places. The smells and the sights are the same as remembered.  Madrid does not ask me why I left him.  He does not ask with whom I have been.  He does not care that I have been gone so long.  He is manly, assured and arrogant.  Of course, it was only a matter of time and I would come crawling back.  He assures me that his plazas and pigeons will always be here.  He adorns himself with granite and marble floors.   Water spurts from his fountains.  His guardia civil stands watch over his gardens full of sweet smelling roses and statues.  Gypsy guitar, accordian and violin tunes float up from the underground metro.  Madrid is as antigua as the marble statues and paintings displayed in it´s Prado.

I like to think this affair is seeped with warmth and affection.  His hands are smooth and so very gentle.  He smells of pipe tobacco.  In this bed he cradles my face.  His hands are so strong and they move with confidence and they pull into my hair.  This movement is so flowing and patient.  As natural as Madrid´s language which is full of rhythm and expression. As refreshing as the trickle of water splashing from plaza fountains. The words and language flow as rich as the smell and taste of the cooking.  Madrid appears to want to hear what I have to say—-dime’ amor.  To the cabbie I am a guapa.  To a stranger I appear to be a preciosa and a maja.

I cannot get enough of these Iberian words which are seeped in olive oil, salt, onion, and green pepper.  In the end I am so full I cannot finish my raspberry dessert.

I want to explore and reconnect.  I want to touch this city like I want to explore and touch the back of a lover´s neck.  I want to run my fingers though the streets like his hair.  I want to try and capture it in my hands.  I want to smell it and taste it with my tongue.  I know I can´t possess it.  It will be fleeting these moments. There are gaps in sentences.  There are messages in what is left unsaid.  But I no longer fear any heartbreak.  Madrid is too daring and brave and he won’t allow it.

Perhaps this love affair won´t last. He too will tire of me.  When I close my eyes I feel this in the needed dinner flirtations.  He has an unflappable or perhaps un-fillable need. Maybe his need matches my own.  Maybe we are a perfect match.  Madrid is so charming.  Everyone wants to be his lover.

Madrid assures me he is timeless.  He moves right here in front of me.  He does not care that tomorrow I will have to leave.  This is the beauty and sweetness of this romancing and flirtation.

I cannot stay.  We both sense a raw and unyielding truth.

He will be here when I come back.  It will be as if I never left.  He won´t ask me where or with whom I have been.  He will be here to kiss both of my cheeks.  His mouth will cover mine.  He will pour out words more decadent and expressive than his music and pastries.  His art will still be in the Prado.  His other women will still wear heels higher than their skirts.  They will still smell wonderful.  He will continue to be drenched in his manliness and arrogance.  He will continue to smoke, drink his taberna beer and watch his Real Madrid play futbol.  He will ask me to the plaza to take in another cafe and to smell his roses.

It will be as if time stopped and I had never left.