Monday, September 20, 2010


I discovered that my first home in Tangier looks exactly like the sanitorium in Halloween. Hotel MHrsa. I am going to live there again some day and be who I was then. It's as easy as that. Didn't you know that?
It would have been a great room for seventeen people on a roadtrip, but for just me on a crisp night in the middle of December and a creepy mustached concierge who wouldn't help me with my bags and the not so subtle noises from the room next to the communal bathroom, it was somewhat sinister. The bathroom was a hole in the floor in a closet with a lone lightbulb hanging from the ceiling making shadows of the spiders that looked like bigger, scarier spiders.

It might seem like a nostalgic longing for the time- a first arrival in a new city- but I think I do actually want to stay in that hotel again. It's like the horror films. I know how creepy it is but I also know it is relatively safe. And familiar at least in my memory and reconstructed imagination of it. Plus I want an excuse to say skeevies.

A passer-by at Cafe Aroma recommended a book to me that reminded him of the book I was reading. I have given in to the fact that I will probably have a lot of conversations with strangers so long as I decide to do my work here. The last guy came over to my table to tell me how impressed he was that everything on me coordinated perfectly. "I'm fascinated. I mean, just the amount of time that must have taken you!"
I looked up the book. The author seems to generally argue that urban space is divided into places and non-places. He counted the metro and the supermarket as non-places. Transient spaces that engender no sense of belonging. I suppose a one night stand with a hotel would fall on this side of the line.
It is clear this man has never had a one night stand with a building or a room, but it appears he has had a love affair with a city. If only he knew how much could happen in a super-market! And entire languages can be learned on the train. And I could assert the place-ness of hotel MHrsa with my hands tied, which hopefully they won't be. It feels like mine in its status as a historical landmark in my personal timeline. Maybe there's more to his ideas than that, but I'll pass regardless.

As I embark on a journey of thick description, I am looking forward to indulging in the small details of the local. I can write about the patterns of the cracks in the pavement without shame! Perec asks "how do you know your city?" and gives a set of directions for how to do it, specifically how to get it down on paper. I'm good at paper and following directions. I don't get lost on purpose because I don't need to. I'll keep a pencil to the ground to trace a line so you know how to find me. And at the very least it will make for a good set of instructions for an embroidered representation of the city shaped like a pelvis or a dress fitted around the pelvis.

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