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Dear Carlos

Alejandro Salvat

I’m writing to tell you that I think about you. I still fondly remember the first day that you taught us at one of the corner classrooms of the top floor of the Beta building of UIC’s Campus Barcelona. It was at the beginning of 2012, a time that I would later discover was very tough for you, but you didn’t let it show since you emanated a huge joy towards life while you protected your privacy. You didn’t just lecture, what you did was transmit wisdom while you wanted us to be impregnated by curiosity, a hunger for culture, a thirst for knowledge; with the intention that we might be tempted to be creative in an unexpected way or that we didn’t give up on pursuing our dreams.

 

Obviously we have to work, and a lot, to achieve our goals. Clearly, you can’t run before you walk; and much less without previously learning to take steps. And one’s steps have to be taken with conviction: one after the other until we become an andante human being with a voice and march of our own. Consequently, our paths become a collection of steps. And what a joy it is to be able to enjoy the road of life! Well, your classes and the emails we’ve shared, though both have been less than I would’ve desired, have been allegro symphonies that I’ll always cherish.

 

Of course I would’ve loved to write to you sooner, but it hasn’t been this way. Perhaps it hadn’t been the right time… what a vile and lazy excuse! You were so right when you told us that people do not understand time, not even when we long for it or run out of it. But please believe me when I tell you that I thought about you when I attended a concert of our beloved Brahms and Elgar, which was directed by Itzhak Perlman. I’d like to go back to our exchange of art and cultural ideas. Have you heard Christopher Rouse‘s flute concert? I was also fortunate to discover it here, in New York, and it positively surprised me. I think you would enjoy it. By the way, lately I’ve been reading and learning about a British poet: what do you think about Sassoon and his bravery in WWI, something that perhaps was a juxtaposition to his fierce criticism of the war? Life is full of ironies and, many times, they are delightful. Even now, or perhaps now more than ever, I feel so fortunate.

 

I know I’ve told you a few times, but I’d like to tell you again: thank you for being so full of ideas and passion, and for sharing and transmitting them with such emphasis. I remember when you used to say that you would give your left arm (your writing arm) to be able to rediscover a composer or a writer, and I used to think and say that I’d also give my left arm (also the one with which I write) for similar moments. And now I see life with a bit more perspective perhaps (at least more than then) and I feel like I didn’t have a clue back then because one thing is to think about life, but living it is something completely different. Just to make sure, I probably still don’t have a clue… And you used to tell me: don’t think so much! I must admit that sometimes I can’t help it, whereas other times I feel like I’m a specialist when it comes to finding insignificant ways to keep my mind busy, probably fried in evasion.

 

Things must be appreciated properly and in due time. However, it’s true that we are all different and it’s better late than never, just like making time for books, recalling authors or certain artists. I almost forgot and these days I have gone back over and over again, reading the last email I sent you. That was three and a half years ago. You invited me to a presentation for a new edition of one of your father’s novels. You admired him so much. And in the end I wasn’t able to make it; something came up in the last minute and I wrote you an email to excuse myself, but the worst part about it is that I can’t even remember what it was that kept me from going… surely something negligible. “And indeed there will be time”… And soon after that I moved to New York and every once in a while, from the distance, I remembered you while telling myself that I should find the time to try to find a moment to write to you. I had the hope of being able to one day shake your hand again and hear your deep voice, full of energy and sarcasm, shout out something which many would surely find inconvenient. But it won’t be possible and I so regret it.

 

It’s been almost two weeks now since the sad news arrived, and I’ve tried to keep postponing this letter. I feel guilty that it hasn’t been written before and I don’t want to say goodbye. What I do want to say is that I strongly feel that something your father wrote is very true: “Only the things that cannot be lost really exist”.  Ideas, literature, music, people like you. I guess that that’s where the importance of faith and goodness, mixed with finding purposes, comes through.

 

I hope you continue to scuba dive accompanied by your dad, both at peace in Heaven. My deepest condolences to all those who love and miss you.

 

A huge hug,

Alex

 

New York, April 13th, 2020

 
 
Nunca lo sabremos