Rue Lobineau, 18 noviembre 2007. Foto JPQ.
Café, en el VI, más próximo de la geografía del último Modiano que del Hemingway póstumo de la madurez última.
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Espoleado por Robert, que comenta con pericia algunos cuentos de Hemingway, he buscado y he tardado pocos minutos en encontrar la frase exacta que yo citaba de memoria hablando de “un lugar limpio y acogedor” [Días tranquilos, en París]. ¿Me engaña mi memoria, recordando la espléndida traducción de Gabriel Ferrater..?
La cita exacta pertenece a los primeros párrafos del primer capítulo de un libro memorable, París era una fiesta, A Moveable Feast. Durante años y años lo leí una y otra vez, hasta que yo mismo me instalé en París esperando el momento de mi siempre aplazada huida a California.
Tantos años después, Robert me obliga a buscar ese libro y copiar el párrafo exacto que tanto influyó en mi:
It was a pleasant café, warm and clean and friendly, and I hung up my old waterproof on the coat rack to dry and put my worn and weathered felt hat on the rack above the bench and ordered a café au lait. The waiter brought it and I took out a notebook from the pocket of the coat and a pencil and started to write. I was writing about up in Michigan and since it was a wild, cold, blowing day it was that sort of day in the story. I had already seen the end of fall come through boyhood, youth and young manhood, and in one place you could write about it better than in another. That was called transplanting yourself, I thought, and it could be as necessary with people as with other sorts of growing things. But in the story the boys were drinking and this made me thirsty and I ordered a rum St. James. This tasted wonderful on the cold day and I kept on writing, feeling very well and feeling the good Martinique rum warm me all through my body and my spirit.
A girl came in the café and sat by herself at a table near the window. She was very pretty with a face fresh as a newly minted coin if they minted coins in smooth flesh with rain-freshened skin, and her hair was black as a crow’s wing and cut sharply and diagonally across her cheek.
I looked at her and she disturbed me and made me very excited. I wished I could put her in the story, or anywhere, but she had placed herself so she could watch the street and the entry and I knew she was waiting for someone. So I went on writing.
The story was writing itself and I was having a hard time keeping up with it. I ordered another rum St. James and I watched the girl whenever I looked up, or when I sharpened the pencil with a pencil sharpener with the shavings curling into the saucer under my drink.
I’ve seen you, beauty, and you belong to me now, whoever you are waiting for and if I never see you again, I thought. You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil. [A Moveable Feast].
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El lugar / café “limpio y acogedor” de mi memoria, advierto que, en verdad, no está en exceso alejado de la cita exacta: «It was a pleasant café, warm and clean and friendly«.