At this moment in my life, I cannot say that I live in “my city.” I don’t have “a city.” One in which I feel at home, very difficult. I think it is more an internal matter that makes this feeling of belonging quickly disappear in the course of inhabiting a city. I was born in Mexico City, but who I am now has been trained in many scenarios and cities, as thousands of people out there living in multiple places, its hard to say “I belong here”.
The most transcendent situations of many people have had a place in different cities from which they were born. A source of inspiration, an unexpected act, or an unusual event has set the tone for the initiation of something important in their lives. Well, that’s how it happened to me. So it is complicated for me to sketch a portray that I own the feeling of belonging to my city. And this difficulty is what leads me to explore and walk over and over again those specific places that made an impact on my soul. Those places that give me peace and comfort to my urban feeling, to my memory. I observe people, walking the streets, making their sidewalks and walls their own. Contrarily, I am a floating entity that looks from afar that sensation of belonging from people towards our metropolis.
What makes one feel, or rather, refer to an urban mass as “my city.” I wonder, after trying to clarify my perception of the environment and its many contrasts. I can talk about urban issues or architecture, but here I look for a naked truth from the heart. When you feel identified with your surroundings, and especially with the socio-cultural context, it is, for me, the climax of urban well-being. In a given geographical territory, adding a fairly charged density is one of the combinations that transform my enjoyment into something else as a constant act of curating my daily life. HOWEVER, I am not here to list the negative facts of Mexico City, rather I seek to express my feelings reflected on some scenarios; in their effect on people, in their impact on one’s aspirations … and mostly on what they cause on me.
In Mexico City, something happens that makes it unique, as is obvious to happen with every place on the planet, and that multifaceted characteristic is typical of my fascination and cause of my frustration at the same time. How to explain myself? My mind has little tolerance for variation, I don’t know the reason but that is how it works. So maintaining a continuous line of anything, I find it much more comforting than the ups and downs as in a sales chart.
Traveling by car for about 30 minutes in Mexico City is a true test for me of contrasts, and walking 1 hour in Oslo can be (for some) more boring than a library for lawyers. Of course, you can’t have everything in life. So, my way of building a healthy feeling of belonging to Mexico City is based on carefully selecting my daily scenarios. And good news for y’all, our city can provide a refreshing taste even repeating those same places (in my opinion). And why is this? To the people and to the weather. People for me overturn the atmosphere of a place. A feature I think I’ve never felt in another city in the world. The vivacity of people and their warm greeting or way of ordering a coffee makes the difference. That is why, even though my social interaction ratio is limited, within these spots, I always find something different and pleasant.
In addition to looking for that third effect that people cause in the places I frequent, a unique touch that devours my senses is the sunset. When the night begins to fall, it is the moment that gives the city a home character, wherever it is. And I think this has a lot to do with the stress of the day starts to slow down and results in relaxation. This, in combination with an aesthetically perfect cafeteria, is the product that my mind eagerly seeks, although not in a daily dose, because if so, it takes away all the meaning and becomes something boring. The pleasure that something offers is much better to consume it in few and dosed quantities, that is when it becomes a true experience.
The memory of a place makes it a precious object for each of us, so I usually try to frequent those places that have a very special place in my memory, and that is how I have built my feelings towards the city. The architecture and any given situation that happened in a particular place of this city created unbreakable bonds that make me physically or mentally return to them. For instance, the places where my father used to take my sister and me since kids, to discover new things and experience art, are sacred temples for me. Which despite the years, they continue to have an impact on my aspirations and actions. They are a static film of his words. They are a frame of reference for finding peace and belonging.
Photos by Carlos Macchia