Nearly one week later and only slowly the feeling of displacement begins to fade. Immediately after landing on English ground, I dropped my bags, took a two-hour nap in my sister’s bed and took the train to Nottingham to attend a surprise-party for a friend. My friend’s reaction was absolutely worth the crazy ride but my brain was mush.
Back in London and everything felt surreal. I describe it as having rolled out of the wardrobe, out of Narnia, and finding yourself in the other world once again. Narnian time runs differently and though you might have lived a life-time there, in this world no one might have even noticed you’ve been gone.
It is a strange feeling but as it starts to fade, I find myself trying to hold onto it almost as if afraid that it will take away all the memories of the last two months too.
So this morning I went to Regents Park to walk the route I used to run before my trip – a compromise between actual running and not getting out of bed. Upon arrival I noticed that time had in fact passed: Mother Nature doesn’t lie. The bare trees and bushes that I used to run past are now in full bloom, the sun was shining and making the colours of the flowers even more vibrant.
Here was my reality and not a shabby one indeed, as I was reminded by reading Peter O’Toole’s autobiography in the cafe. O’Toole describes a picture of Hitler at 26, ” …taken on the eve of the 19-14-1918 war (…) practically destitute, anxious, fugitive, indolent and desperate.” It was taken just before he had to run messages across the heavily bombarded entrenchments for years. It obviously screwed him up so much that he’d become one of the most disgusting men in history – so in comparison: I am definitely winning!
Still with this perspective, I saw memories everywhere: the most magnificent roses that grabbed my attention were blood-red and named after Ingrid Bergman, the crawling baby behind my chair was called Audrey… It might not mean anything to you, but if you were there the last few months, you’ll understand.
I was thinking of how to describe this feeling to you, when I got a text-message that was signed off with the Portuguese word: saudade. I assumed it would mean something like ‘I miss you’ but in fact it is so specific there is a website dedicated to it.
It seems to be a mixture of longing, of nostalgia, a wishful notion of wanting to be with someone in another time. A word that described my indescribable feeling, illustrated on the website by Ada Jill Schneider:
“All of us, who search for common roots,
who are endowed with a primordial
spirit that harkens back to our lost innocence
and beckons us to reach out to one another.
When the spirit calls, we feel saudades.
Temos saudades. We have saudades.”