Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Street Mirror - 2011
Everyone stands alone 
at the heart of the earth
Pierced by a ray of sunlight.
And suddenly, it is evening. 

Salvatore Quasimodo 

I am European.

I sometimes cast a glance to the other side of the ocean, and sigh from nostalgia. This happens more and more often as time passes by.
I've been wondering, all these years, what it is that makes me miss my lands so much. The conclusion was not hard to reach: change.

Everything has irremediably changed in my hometown and the people who live there. Details which were once dear to me and whose memory I am so fond of do not exist anymore.
The nut tree in my garden I used to climb up is no longer there. The fig tree is also no longer there. What once was a green stretch of land, is now the limited backyard of some disgraced architecture.
The people have changed. My friends are older, more tired. Sadder. Some of them have whiter hair. Nobody plays soccer on Saturday afternoon at the old broken down tennis court we used for a soccer court; nobody goes there, not anymore, because the children don't play soccer anymore on Saturday afternoon. But the court hangs on; time scarred it with a few breaches around which the ground swelled up a bit.
Poor forlorn tennis court. 
I used to visit a friend every Saturday and Sunday afternoon until a few years ago. We'd have long chats in the garden, under the maple tree. Then, his old mother would make tea accompanied by Ladyfingers. She used to buy them especially for me, and we'd talk and talk for long hours.
And suddenly, we've grown older. Last year she couldn't remember who I was. It took my friend and I two hours to help her remember a few details about me. The day after I had to explain everything all over again. The tea with the Ladyfingers were not there waiting for me. My friend, seeing my disappointment, said, "I can go buy the Ladyfingers for you and we can have tea".
I told him, "It wouldn't make sense anymore. Don't buy them. Let's just have some tea".
And as my mother drove past his house, last week, she saw how unadorned the garden was. My friend's mother is now too old to even plant flowers; only the nice Settembrine that my friend himself plants and adores remain.
No more vegetable garden. No more beans, tomatoes, zucchini. No more sage or parsley. No more roses. No more nothing.

Yet, my friend says that things haven't really changed. I know very well that he's just trying to make me feel better about it. But the last time I saw him, I could perceive the aura of sadness that surrounded him. It seemed to me that the calm acceptance of the universal order we all believe in within our circle of friends has become, now, a painful and sorrowful resignation that my friend tries to disguise but can no longer hide.

So, on my way back home, I'm afraid of what I will find.
But even more, I'm afraid of what I won't find.

Is your return home as heavyhearted as that? 



  1. Is your return home as heavyhearted as that? I have grown used to it,Jay. This is a lovely elegiac piece.

    1. Thank you Mike,
      I have gradually grown used to it too, although a trail of nostalgia never leaves me.
      Thank you for commenting.

  2. Jay—

    I had to clear out my childhood house this spring, and was dreaming just last night about going back in to find it utterly changed. The little things that most embody my sadness about the past that is no longer there are my mother’s linen guest towels and her rolling pin, and my father’s typing paper and big Random House dictionary, gone from his writing room. In the yard I miss the cherry trees and the big old apricot tree, and the mock orange which I’ll never get to see in bloom again, or to smell through my open bedroom window.

    You’ve written so beautifully about your loss—and that of all of us. Thank you for this most bittersweet post, and be of good heart on your journey.

  3. Oh I'm so sorry the changes seem to be all sad and for the worse! I hope you have a safe journey and I hope there will be some joy and memorable times ahead despite the differences from the now to the then!

    Take care

    1. Christie,
      Thank you for stopping by, as usual.
      I think memory and remembrance is the most precious thing we all have. I have to thank Marcel Proust for this piece of understanding.

      My journeys are always memomarable. I always adapt to the differences, but I never forget the way it was.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Yes. Going home is bittersweet, always. Everything changes-- it must-- but it doesn't mean that it will ever be easy. Just remember your heavy-heartedness is a result of your ability to have full life experiences. They're gone now, so you long for them, but there's always an opportunity to create new ones.

    Your talk of the fig tree brought me to my childhood orange tree that sat in the backyard. Every winter it would get heavy with sweet oranges which we'd eat every day until our lips got sore! That tree is no longer there, but I often visit it in dreams. Maybe you can go back ,too, in this way.

    Hope your trip is more sweet than bitter. :)

  5. I adore the quote you opened with.

    Very bittersweet words, then nostalgia often is. Things change and stay the same. Where I grew up is 3,000 miles from where I live now. But this is the place I miss when I'm away. I miss the people where I grew up, but most of them are gone.

    1. Mary,
      That is a short poem by Italian poet Salvatore Quasimodo.
      I love the way it summarizes the meaning of life in three perfect verses.
      People go, I know. That's why Remembrance, as our connection with what we were, is to me something we should cherish with great care and affection.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. This is beautifully written, my friend. I completely understand this. I had the same feelings come up when I went back to my old childhood home to clear out the loft before moving on. Things are never the same and it makes me realise how precious life is and how important it is to live in the moment. To soak up every second.
    I wish you much happiness.

  7. Raquel,
    I think change affects us when we don't go through it, but we just find out, one day, all of a sudden, that things are no longer the same. This is my case, and this is what, as of late, gets me very sensitive.
    My trip is sweet. But like Emily Dickinson said, "To comprehend a nectar / requires sorest need".
    Thanks for commenting!

    Thanks for your heartful comment, my friend!
    Lately more than in any other moment in life I understood how precious life is and how important the things I have are.
    I wish you the same.