Saturday, June 4, 2016

Straight Outta Primrose Hill and Straight Inta Camden

To put Camden Market into a Southern Californian context, think: LAs' Grand Central Market + LAs' Farmer's Market + SD's Old Town and Mx's Tijuana then know that likening Camden Market to anything it's NOT, minimizes it. This reminds me of CS Lewis' The Silver Chair. Visit this link for more on that. 
Lined in vibrant street art, Regents Canal breathes a different air than Kensington, which only displays preprinted art. A guitarist belts out his soul into the arches of the granite bridge above, reverberating my marrow. The brick outwears its mortar, creating uneven paving leading into the West Yard. Those in heals wobble along gracelessly, which I rather enjoy observing. Into the market, moving one step at a time, merges the crowd. Food stalls representing people from everywhere are jammed together. I come up for air and know I'll never see it all, but before I venture far, a Venezuelan vendor offers me a sample of "Gluten Free Corn Bread." I don't know what it is called. I don't take any pictures. I am too busy eating masa made to form a biscuit (wikipedia suggests Arepa), stuffed with fried cheese, shredded beef, guacamole, pico de gallo, cremasalsa, platanos fritos y frijoles negros. I died. I nearly cried. It's not warm corn tortillas with butter but it's enough of home to cradle the ache. I tell the vendor that my mother stews shredded beef with chipotles and chile pasillas. He asks me where I am from. San Diego - my momma's Latina. He's Mexicano-Colombiano and from Monterrey. We smile goodbye through the chaos. I buy leather bound journals, t-shirts from a local artist, a copy of Raymond Chandler's The Little Sister and Cranium. I read my new book on a bench with a broken leg for 10 minutes before maintenance kicks me off and then I get a foot massage. My left Achille's Tendonitis has flared up again. I've been limping around all week feeling miserable. Thirty minutes of reflexology for 35GBP by a woman that I am dying to hug in thanks but don't. She leans in to hug me but I blush and look down, missing my opportunity. Middle-aged asian women remind me of my Filipino aunties. This woman felt the pain in my tendon, discovered my recent allergy attack, and sensed my homesickness. I am touched by her receptiveness. She brings back the familiar and I yearn to be hugged by a woman that loves children the way my mother loves me. My family is very demonstrative. My parents, still in love, have always been openly affectionate with eachother, my brothers and myself. At 34, I still hold hands with my parents and grandmother when we go out. I really miss home when I look into this woman's slanted eyes, so like those I love. What hurts most about being away is not being held by those who already know and love me.

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