Monday, May 26, 2008
How I wish I could get it right this time. All my life I’ve been dreaming about that moment when I would be free of all constraints and could finally begin building that special world I’ve always saw whenever I went to bed and let my mind run free over all things, real and imaginary.
Like many people in this world I never really knew what a home is. At least not one like those we sometimes see in movies, read about in books, or even sees next door, which makes it more desirable because it is real and seems so easy to get. But, in a way, I had one.
Those minutes, or hours, between the moment I went to bed until sleep came and took my mind away from this world I really grew wings and took off. For many, many years, those moments, every night, were really when I was home. I just laid my head over my pillow, turned the lights off, and distinctly saw myself opening the front door of my house and dropping the door keys over a small black table right next to the door. Then, without turning the lights on, I used to see myself sitting on a couch, in the dark, facing the movement of the night garden behind the glass wall of the living room. Sometimes, of course, there were variations. Sometimes there was music. Sometimes I imagined it was winter and I would start a fire in the fireplace and just stood there staring at the flames and at the rain outside, feeling the warmth and hearing the small cracks of the wood. It even snowed, every now and then. Other times it was summer, and I went outside and just felt the tropical night warmth and humidity, and laid my body over the grass hearing the waves of the sea below and night insects going about their lives.
What kind of house was this imaginary house of mine, in a tropical place but where it snowed all the same? It was HOME. It was the place where I could always run to, no matter how bad things got. In there I knew I would be safe. In there I always felt joy and could find my peace of mind again and again, every nights, for many many years.
Sometimes I even took people there to share my home with me for some hours, for some days. Of course none of those people have recollections of those moments when they shared with me the most precious thing I could give them. It was all in my mind. That house, that peace, that fireplace, those tropical nights, the keys dropped on a black table behind the entrance door, the snow outside, all the joy I felt, the murmur of the sea down below calling for me nigh after night, the company I took there although mostly I enjoyed to be there by myself… It was all the fruit of my imagination. But although I knew that, for I am no schizophrenic, that was really the closest I ever got to home. I always knew it wasn’t real, but it was there, every nights, and it made feel good.
For years and years that place lifted me up. It gave me wings and had me regain my strength. I even remember, as a kid, of being sick and feverish and sleeping all day during many days, and feeling happy about that because it allowed me to be at home for a longer period.
Like I’ve said, I always knew it wasn’t real. But as long as it made me happy I didn’t mind. I was my secret place, my shelter, my dream, my home, my wish, and now I miss it.
I’m a grown man now, at least in the biological sense of the word, but every night when I go to bed I try to follow the road that would take me back to that place. But somehow, for a few years now, all I manage is to get lost along the way. I can’t return home anymore. I know it’s gone, even if its memory and all the pleasure I used to feel persists in my mind. I will never allow those moments to leave me. Although I no longer believe I will be home again, or that I will make that dream come true, I need those memories to feel human, joyful, and in peace. And so I thank my mind for all the tricks it played with me along the years, for even if I never really knew what happiness was at least I know what it is to feel joy. After all, that’s what life is all about.
(Photograph: Panguila, Angola, August of 2007 / Text: Coimbra, Portugal, May 24th 2008)
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