Those days when you get to thinking about your ex

The truth is that I miss you. Beautiful you and your beautiful face. Your beautiful voice. Even your beautiful baggage. How I got lost in your past and your dreams. And although in the end I was never anything to you, till today I remember you with a tenderness and a longing which I did not believe myself capable of.

Beautiful but cold
I cannot erase from my heart
Your scent, your touch, your magic

Two towards the sky /  Reaching out for the heavens /  Works in progress, still
Two towards the sky
Reaching out for the heavens
Works in progress, still

This post should be subtitled ‘My tragic unreciprocated love for Europe’

My previous post reveals something akin to admiration bordering on obsession – for a football team. So if Real Madrid is my celebrity idol, Europe is the childhood fantasy that became a fling. That almost became a casual thing. And then I decided I needed a real relationship so I went to Ecuador.

But it was the European affaire that meant so much more to me than anyone – least of all myself – would ever have thought.

Nine days in 2003. Two weeks in 2004. Four weeks in 2005. Five months in 2008. Three months in 2010.

Reading El juego del ángel (The Angel’s Game, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón) whisks me away to a Barcelona I never knew but already ache for. Despite some cliched female characters and one-liners, the play of words nonetheless lights up all the right synapses in my brain. Reading – let alone hearing – Spanish is like savouring a symphony.

Eurovision 2014 a few weeks ago sent me back to Europe circa 2010. Festive lights that make you believe in magic, enchanted spires bewitching the heavens, centuries of history and countless cobbled streets to lose yourself in.

Winter mornings this week have been a pale echo of December and January in the Old World. Moody skies, the snow-covered countryside, frozen fountains guarded by solemn statues, town squares to inspire the bard in you.

I am sitting here listening to Italian pop, writing this.

What do I do with my divided heart?

Ask anyone who has lived extensively overseas and they will tell you ‘home’ becomes an increasingly difficult, complex (redundant?) concept. It was complicated enough for me when I was in primary school, feeling I didn’t belong here because my face was just one of several ineffable things that were different about me. I felt different.

Then when I started visiting other countries I realised Australia would always be the closest thing I have to home on this earth – this place has shaped me, made me. And yet every time I come back I have this experience of slight yet unnerving dislocation. It’s like an existential hangover. Or like moving back in with your parents after fighting for independence.

It occurred to me that perhaps I feel more comfortable out of my comfort zone, in another country and culture, because it’s easier to embrace being a foreigner in a foreign land than to try not to be a foreigner in your own land. I wonder.

But why Europe – after all this time, after everything else that has been a part of my life? I’m increasingly convinced things from my childhood, both good and bad, die hard. The things I learned to do (good and bad). The things I picked up that became habits (good and bad). The things people said to me (good and bad). The things I believe (good and bad). (Also, the things I wrote songs about).

What began as a childhood fantasy spawned by spending too much time reading young adult fiction and watching TV has, rather than fading away over the years, become so much more. I’m just not sure at this stage whether it’s one of the good things or the bad things.

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