I feel like I have lost my sense of time and space.
I had breakfast in Italy, lunch in Switzerland and dinner in France. I watched the sun emerge from the fog not far from home and be swallowed in again around Colmar, and lots of green swiss valleys with cows scattered all over in between.
But then again, I don’t exactly know what home is for me anyway.
When I got back to my hometown ten days ago, I was at a loss. When asked, I have always said that I lived in “a lovely little city by the lake Maggiore”… but suddenly, it didn’t look very lovely anymore. Maybe it’s the season: I’ve never been in love with the winter sun, and the weather in the last week was a close replica. Maybe Strasbourg, with its palaces and gardens, just spoiled me. But I was disappointed. All the way from Strasbourg to Italy, in a car with two of the people who are among the dearest to me, I thought something was wrong with me leaving France, like this was my place after all. But I also thought I would feel good once at home. Well, home felt good, if home = my little nest, family and friends, my cat. Arona didn’t feel good though – I kept feeling like I didn’t belong there.
So I began thinking maybe it’d feel right to come back here. Turns out I was deluding myself.
Once here, I felt exactly like I did the other times I met someone from home, after they left: lonely, like a caged lion, as if I didn’t know what to do with myself. Strasbourg didn’t welcome me back the way I expected it to. It’s soon, I know. I miss my loved ones too much to realize how much I cherish this place. And I also know why Strasbourg didn’t feel confortable: it’s a holiday, and on holydays and sundays there’s nota crowd hanging around, so it looks pretty sad. And it’s dark. I’m not used to Strasbourg by night. Being the asocial, unfriendly creature I am, I rarely join other people for a night out, and in October, there was obviously more light in the evening. So Strasbourg in the dark is a stranger to me. I’m still trying to decide if I want to learn to love it.
So, for the moment, I feel like I don’t have a home – except, of course, where the people I love are. It’s weird for me, since I wasn’t one of those children who had to move often. I knew exactly where my heart was, on a map.
But I’m trying. And it’s already getting better, better than three hours ago. I try to pick up again the familiar gestures: struggling to fit my room key into the lock, keeping the shower door from banging when it closes, saying bonjour to the occasional neighbour I meet in the hall. Things around me will feel familiar again soon: the onion smell in the staircase (that I didn’t even notice anymore before leaving, so much I was accustomed to it), the very quiet music (in order not to disturb other people, as the walls are very thin), the sound of trolley cases on the concrete under the trees (and how weird it was to be the one who made it tonight!).
They all compete in my mind. With things that will always remind me of the last week: the taste of good pumpkin.
A new Florence + the Machine single (that made me cry on the train not far from Bern).
The smell of cinnamon (believe me – this stuff‘s good).
I think I needed to write down all of this. I’ll probably sleep better tonight, so if you followed me this far, thank you for reading.
Maybe in two months I’ll be able to say that both Arona and Strasbourg are, in their own way, home. I definitely hope so.