Earlier this month, The New York Times ran a piece about Spain’s Javier Marías. That article sent me to the library to pick up Marías’s Between Eternities. That collection includes an essay entitled “Those Who Are Still Here,” a recollection of his childhood at the movies, among other things. A passage toward the end made me realize that what I had assigned as an idiosyncratic reaction, based on a trip a few years ago back to the neighborhood of my youth, might be a universal experience.
It’s a feeling we’re all familiar with to some extent: nothing is more dismaying than to discover that something — however unimportant — has changed or disappeared from a city we haven’t visited for a while or from the district where we spent our childhood, and our sentiments then are along the lines of an outraged “How dare they!” because we experience any such changes as an attack on our own orderly world and on our own personal memory of the place.