February 05, 2016

November, interrupted

On the 13th of November, I take a plane to Italy. I've decided to spend three days in Venice, a city I love and haven't been to in a while.

As I cross the city onboard the vaporetto, the buildings are almost made invisible by the fog, which makes the view even more fascinating. I settle in an old pension in the Dorsoduro, and after a freezing evening walk, I am so exhausted I go straight to bed.

My sleep is full of nightmares, and when I wake up and turn on my computer all hell has broken loose. Paris in a panic. A hundred people dead. Dozens of messages from my friends who haven't heard of me from last night, since I told no one I was leaving. Scenes of horror all over the news. Borders closed.

I feel like packing my bag instantly and coming home, which is strange because Paris is not home to me. But once again I am abroad while my people mourn as one. Last January I was in Bali, watching the tragedy unfold from a safe distance. Same again now. Everybody is gathering in the street and I am in Venice, alone. It feels wrong.

I stay in Venice in the end. I spend two days walking around, a bit aimlessly, in my head a background made of horrific headlines and noise of firearms. A burning knot in my throat. I take a boat to the islands and my heart feels so heavy even the colored houses of Burano can't cheer me up. I walk around the art Biennale. In the french exhibit, there is a single artwork – a tree, uprooted from the ground with all its roots and dirt still attached, mounted on a wheel that makes it moves slowly across an empty white room. People come in, sit in the corner, and watch the living tree. On the stairs, people have left little notes, leaves and pebbles arranged into patterns, anything they could find on the ground to leave a tribute to the dead. Candles have been lit, too. I stand among a crowd in front of the stairs, and for the first time tears roll down my cheeks, for all these people dead, all these people wounded, all these people who have lost someone they loved. I don't care for the analysis and the stupid comments on social medias and all the politics rallying. I only care that people are hurt, all over this poor planet, and that their suffering is also mine.

I fly home and as soon as I leave the airport I can feel it. The energy is frightening. On the subway, people avoid looking at each other and jump at the slightest noise. This is what it does to us. The fear. I go home and decide to instantly head back out to have a drink. I forbid myself to be afraid.

Before I even left for Venice an idea was born in my head that I can't shake. And day after day this idea has been growing louder, until I had to voice it and turn it into a decision. I ask him : « Can I ? » and he says « Do it ». Once the decision is made, everything else falls behind. I get my bag out of the closet and I find a very cheap last minute flight. As I confirm the flight I start screaming and laughing and my heart feels like it's going to explode. I barely sleep the night before, and then the alarm goes off and I am running out the door, to the airport.

Flying to Japan.

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