“Madrid will return”: a love letter to the city from a bookstore in the capital

The writer and bookseller Laura Riñón went to bed last Friday, September 18, knowing, like the rest of Madrid, that many neighborhoods in Madrid were going to be confined again. “I went to bed thinking about what the new confinements had in store for us, but I woke up optimistic and with the desire to write,” he tells by phone to Verne. That morning he wrote a text on the Instagram account of his bookstore (Poppies in October) with which, as he says, “I wanted to try to show others that, whatever happens, Madrid is still alive and is not going to give up.” The result is a love letter to life in Madrid that has exceeded 18,000 ‘likes’ on Instagram in less than a week and dozens of accounts have been replicated. At the bottom of the article you can read the full text, which starts like this:

Madrid welcomes you without asking you where you come from. He dresses long to greet you and lengthens his nights so that the memories do not forget you. Madrid draws streets on maps that do not exist.

In the text, Kidney speaks “of the positive feelings in common that Madrid awakens in us who live in it, which are many more negative”, according to account. The 45-year-old author writes about how welcoming and plural she considers the city, its bustle … and how now that all that has died down due to the pandemic, “we must not forget or abandon it.”

Dozens of accounts have replicated Kidney’s text, both on Instagram and on Twitter and Facebook, where some copies accumulate hundreds of shares. Sara Carbonero –with 2.8 million followers– or Paula Echevarría –with 3.3 million– have published it in full on their Instagram accounts, which has helped to spread it. “I think it has worked because I tried to put into words feelings that all of us from Madrid share,” says the author.

Kidney says that the text, with which many people say they feel identified in the comments, comes at a time when “Madrid needs to love itself again.” “There is a negative perception of the city both inside and outside Madrid”, he considers. “Just today two clients from Alicante have come to the bookstore who told me that Madrid, seen from the outside and because of what is shown in the media, is scary,” he says.

For the writer, this negative perception of Madrid is not limited to people outside the capital. “In the streets, in addition to being emptier and with many shutters down, there is a sadness that I had never felt before,” she says. “It’s something that many clients also tell me: we start talking and they tell me that the city and they feel sadder. At times, more than a bookstore, it seems that we are in therapy ”, she jokes.

Unlike other texts that are popularized on the Internet and that, by copying and pasting themselves, end up losing their author along the way, most copies of Kidney’s text are still signed by the author. “I am very happy that authorship has not been lost along the way, because it is not always like that,” she says. “However, in this case I do not consider that the text is only mine: although I wrote it, it is signed by all the people who love Madrid.”

Madrid

Laura Kidney

Madrid welcomes you without asking you where you come from. He dresses long to greet you and lengthens his nights so that the memories do not forget you. Madrid draws streets on maps that do not exist.

In Madrid, cats watch behind the curtains, they observe those who arrive to start a life. Many Madrilenians have a town to return to, because from there came the brave relatives who left years ago. In Madrid there are posh and junkies, neighborhoods and neighborhoods, yellow cobblestones and Royal streets, whores, nostalgics, workers and rulers, cyclists and scooters. Churrerías and skewers. Luxury and poverty. Madrid is chaos and disorder. Noise and bustle. Gin at any time, restaurants with a star or bottled beer. Clandestine concerts and large crowded venues, theaters with red velvet seats and tiny rooms, bookstores and museums, galleries and street performers. University and school. Bars and party rooms.

Madrid appears behind the counter when the tourist arrives. Everything you want, he says, we have everything you could need in this life or any other.

Even the silence.

Madrid is also silence.

And shelter. And shelter. And hiding place.

It is the place where friends for life meet. And fleeting loves. And the invisible lovers.

Madrid has suddenly stopped being Madrid. The heavy air slows down time and the streets fill with nothing, voids and misunderstandings. Madrid is being punished and now it needs us to give it back what it has given us, or part of it at least. Because Madrid will return and will be as generous as it always was. She will remind us of those of us who did not abandon her and she will thank us as only she knows how to do it and we will return to the “do you remember” that now we do not stop mentioning because we cannot create new memories.

We owe him part of who we are, let us not forget or abandon it.

Madrid never failed us.

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