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