A week ago, a train carried me from the pine-covered hills of Southern Italy to the sleepy station of my hometown. When we crossed the border at Chiasso, the sky slowly turned purple behind the mountain ranges. The transitions seemed seamless; the gradient of dusk, the train moving from one country to another, my being shifting between poles, a week back home ahead of me to see and celebrate beloved people. I slotted right back into the life I’ve always known, and for some days the last few months in London felt like a fever dream, something my mind would conjure up in indulgent daydreams. A compound of people and places and faces and conversations and touches and hugs woven into a home, an additional one, that did not exist one year ago, at least not in the way I have assembled it, the way it exists for me: a map of my existence in this city where various coordinates hold various meanings, the extent of which only I know, the academic as well as personal lessons learnt through curiosity in all its different shapes, and given shape by the people who studied them with me.
And now a week has passed and I’m about to slip back into this fever dream, perched in the Departures hall, bridging two places and thereby longing for both, which is impossible (the being, not the longing). Having woken up this morning in the sun-drenched bed of my childhood and sat in the garden that I’ve known all my life to watch the crows soar while the church bell rang from the old town below and my family chattered from the terrace above, all of it was home, and yet, tonight I’ll go to sleep in another place that is also home, in a bed overlooked by a beloved tree in front of my window, whose leaves sometimes murmur its secrets to me just when I’m about to fall asleep.
And yet, when I think about it, though I cannot be in two places at once, they can exist for and within me at the same time, just like excitement for things to come and nostalgia for things gone by can co-exist, and just like my love for the people in both these places can do, too, and this makes me think of borders; from North to South, from sea to land, between me and others, borders and boundaries that crisscross my life and divide it somehow,
and yet, and yet, miraculously,
it remains whole
or, come to think of it,
it not only remains whole, it even seems to expand, grow in width and depth continually.