This is a disclaimer: the following words are an entirely experimental mixture of journalism and fiction (journafication). If you are sensitive to opaque interplays between objectivity and creativity in writing, please discontinue reading now.
This is funny (http://www.rtve.es/noticias/20111016/468765.shtml), thought the idealistically inclined woman. The hotel is there, in real life, real flesh, real bricks and real bones (of the people who have taken it over). But in reality, it is much more of a metaphor. A utopia. Or should you say an utopia, she wandered, walkingly? No matter about insignificant linguistic differences. Creativity matters in the end. Not conformity. Creativity. Creating a new way of life in the limited confines of an abandoned building.
What this was was a Brave New World. A temporary idea inside the rushing, beautiful bubble of troubled humanity in Madrid.
The protests began in late spring, when the trees were full of blooming flowers which would soon bloom no more, and continued in autumn, when the leaves began to fall softly, noiselessly, brownly, to the floor of the nearby Retiro Park. They called the Retiro ‘The Lungs of Madrid’. In that case, what would this hotel be? The feet, possibly, she thought.
She walked up to the idea within the autumnal bubble with the quiet, good intentions of a woman believing in a better world and yet not quite sure how to bring it about. She ran her plan through her head again so she could tell her children all about it when she came home. The protestors are occupying the empty hotel for the good of the people. That is the idea. Since no one was using the building they thought they might use it to make a difference.
Hotel Homeless. That is what it might be called, if there was an official naming to be done. Then you could smash a grand bottle of champagne against the first floor balcony there, where the signs hang and where people look down at the un-revolutionary people passing by with shopping bags below. Right in the heart of the shopping district.
Again, she thought walking carefully up to it (as careful as if the mere placement of a wrong stop in the approach might cause the police to clear the whole place), the hotel is a metaphor for all of society. Only in reverse. Those who check in to homelessness want the stay to be as brief as possible. And they cannot hope for any luxury when they pass through its revolving doors. Also, the stay threatens to become permanent, with the current eviction laws in Spain needing to be changed radically (http://www.elpais.com/articulo/english/Citizens/stop/for/now/eviction/of/Madrid/mother/and/disabled/elpepueng/20110707elpeng_3/Ten) to favour the banks less and the people more.
She had very grand ideas, sweeping, large, mushy, tender, hopeful ideas, and she wanted none of them dashed (http://www.elpais.com/articulo/english/Police/stop/protestors/from/impeding/eviction/elpepueng/20110720elpeng_13/Ten) as she turned now and entered quite easily into the occupied hotel. A few days earlier she had read about the new organisation of the hotel into thematic floors and that an elderly lady and a baby were amongst those occupying the hotel. (http://politica.elpais.com/politica/2011/10/17/actualidad/1318805362_448336.html)
Now that very article hung up there on the wall in the first floor. It hung there on the wall. Without moving. But moving something. But that was a bit later, when she had swirled magically up the red stairs. Now she walked in to the place. There was a dark feeling at first in her stomach but then it was gone inside, and she was free and lightly dabbled along. The radio played in the reception. No one stopped her.
She twirled up the stairs. Then she was in the new world, the brave new world, this brave new world which had a chess board sitting there on the inside of the room you saw from outside with the people leaning out. There was no one playing chess. But the possibility of chess was there. Intellectual, this revolution, she thought, and noted it down in her mental notebook. Then she talked to a man from communication. He said that the protest movement needed a warm place to stay in winter. Pictures were exchanged.
Then there were more notes to be made. The board with necessities. Coffee. Milk. And tomato sauce. These were the very basic necessities of the new world. A few moments later she saw the toilets, which looked normal too. And then there outside the toilets stood the baby cart. It was empty. So it was true what was written. There really seemed to be a baby involved in this.
The top floor of the hotel was the place for evicted people to live. This is ideal, she thought. Because whoever will forgive us, in 20 or 50 years when we have become less selfish and more human, for having left buildings standing empty and unused when thousands were sleeping on the streets? Where is the humanity in that?
Matthias Krug ( www.mkrug.com ) is a Madrid-based writer of fiction and journalism, whose first novel is entitled ‘Selfishness’ and is available on Amazon.