I have recently been reading Memory Maps by Lisa St Aubin de Teran. She is one of my favourites, such a beautiful woman and beautiful writer. I recommend this and all of her books, massively.
It also got me thinking about my own memory maps. In the book, Lisa basically draws you a sketch of her favourite (or less-favourite, but important) places, a tiny snapshot of her life at the time she was there, from her early home in Clapham, to the South American hacienda, to a trip to Mali.
I love this idea and am going to attempt a few of my own. Here is the first, with reference to La Marina, which is near Alicante in Spain. My grandmother owns a house there and I have been going there pretty much all my life. I last visited in August/September 2012, a wonderful week's holiday with Jimmy, Nan and Elda.
When I think of La Marina, I think of chocolate spread. The kind that is swirled milk chocolate and white chocolate; the milk chocolate swirls are always slightly more melted in the heat than the white chocolate swirls. It comes in a brightly painted jar, of which I have six at home that I use as water glasses. As a child, I pronounced the chocolate spread there to be the best in the world. Last time I was there, at the age of 31, I ate four jars of it and brought home two (telling myself that it wasn't just greed but because I wanted a full set of water glasses).
We go to the beach for paella and surprisingly good massages. We go to the market, where I buy a leather handbag and a striped red vest, which - entirely coincidentally and honestly, I promise - I am wearing right now, underneath a jumper.
Mostly, though, we do not move - not beyond the patio, the shop at the end of the road, the local bar. I am very happy not to move, would be happy not to move ever again. I lie on the patio for hours, oiled up 70s style and wearing a Chinese hat I bought there when I was 13 and has stayed there ever since, with a bottle of gin, a family-sized bag of crisps and an old copy of Jilly Cooper. I eat hamburgers. I am so much browner and fatter than when I arrived, always.
La Marina is, to me, a place of peace, a place of not worrying. Despite who might or might not be there with me to the contrary, it feels to me at its heart - in my heart - a place of women.