Home is a strange concept for me.
Most people need to return to their house to feel ”home”. Most people have a place where they feel grounded. I never had roots, I don’t feel any attachment to a certain place. I often got sorry looks when I tried to explain my rootlessness.
I don’t feel sorry for myself. ”Home” is wherever I put my toothbrush down.
Home is here. For now.
The flight was long, and as usual, customs were a nightmare. For some reason, no matter how light I travel, custom agents always seem to find something to investigate. This time, my light bag was the problem. Apparently, it was a bit suspicious that I didn’t bring enough clothing to fill a large walk-in.
But it is over now, and the hour long train ride gave me more than enough time to put the annoyance behind me.
Unpacking only takes a couple of minutes and after taking a quick tour of the apartment, I pull the living room’s window curtains open and sit on the comfortable L-shaped sofa.
From here, I should feel somewhat happy. But I don’t. And it sure doesn’t come as a surprise. Happiness is just a vague memory, and has been for a long time. Moving six time zones away from my routine will not change that, but I feel a certain relief in not having to hide anymore.
Resting my forehead against the cold window pane, I watch the last of evening’s light die between the four walls of the small inner yard. Slowly, everything gets swallowed by the shadows… The climbing vine, the candles on the little patio table, the details of the door leading to the street entrance.
As darkness sets in, I feel my eyes tearing up. I don’t recall the last time I’ve let myself cry. For months now, many months, I’ve let the hurt build up. At first, I really thought people would notice… I am a pretty expressive person after all, and I thought non-verbal would give me up. But I am apparently better a liar than I suspected.
A couple of people politely inquired about my being ok, when I went quieter. Nothing that an ”I’m fine” wouldn’t reassure. What else could I have replied anyway? I have a stable job, decent salery, lovely place I live in, and great friends and family. Really nothing to complain about. Pretty much anyone I know has better reasons to feel down than I do.
Getting up, I walk around the coffee table to reach the kitchen counter where a complimentary bottle of fine Bordeaux wine from my host is waiting to be corked open. My hands shake a little, probably from exhaustion. Or not. The knot in my throat tells another story, and as I walk towards the door, bottle and glass in hands, I feel a shortness of breath. This apartment, as lovely as it is, is too small for all the sorrow I brought along with me.
I pick up my lighter and cigarettes, stuff them in my pocket and open the door to get fresh air.
I sit at the patio table and light a couple of candles. Even if I know it is very late now, the quietness is almost eerie, so close to the center of the capital. The city is alive outside the walls of my lair, yet I can hardly hear a car passing by every now and then…
My closest neighbour’s door opens slightly, and a muffled voice calls out. A small purring silhouette brushes against my leg and rushes inside. Victor, as the mysterious voice called him, disappears as suddenly as he showed up. And everything goes silent again.
The calmness finally gets to me, and wathing the blurry flames burning, I burst in tears. At least, I won’t have to explain anything to anyone. I just let the wave roll over me, washing my cheeks with burning salty water.
I am not quite sure if this feels great or if the pain is barely bearable. I just need to let the long built pressure out, at last. I cry in silence, hoping no one will walk into the inner yard just yet.
As I look up to the sky, thinking the stars will be the only witness of my breakdown, I notice some light from a second floor window, just across the yard. I suppress my sobs and try to focus through the tears, as a tall silhouette walks away from the window.
Drying my cheeks on the sleeve of my sweater, I keep looking up.
The light shines bright, but the silhouette doesn’t peek back.