The worst damage is caused by the return without re-possession of the left behind territories. Finding nothing as a substitute to myself, finding that my freshly acquired capacity to adapt to new surroundings only hinders survival back home. This could turn out to be a refreshing experience or an unwanted welcome gift.
Scenario: Objectively, the same. My native Malaga is as intense and charming as usual. I am given a familiar welcome by its consistent, lofty jasmine smell and its 38ºC shade. I am not impressed. Places change infinitely slower than people, and I myself am changed, recognizable by as little as my name, which catches the eye of those around me. In addition, my eyes have learnt new ways to observe: Malaga, unaltered as it may seem, feels alien to me.
Returning means struggling to seize a different city – different every time, for the eyes that contemplate it are never the same. Re-encountering inexistent landscapes, extinct selves, ghosts of our own that we intended to leave behind and deemed dead, but that are somehow still alive. I bump into them out of the corner of old friend’s eyes, down in dark corridors, behind the slips of the tongue, in the disappointed gaze. They are not conventional ghosts since they look at me with equal disconcertment and are besieged by the same question than me: Who, out of everyone I have been, are you? Which cruel God dared borrow my face to stamp it on your skull and put you to roam about my streets, MY streets?
I am tempted by guilt, I fight not to feel deteriorated. My decisions, my upgrades are not allies anymore. They are blacked out, disowned, and follow me writhing in pain at my only wish for being the other. I am devoid of pride. I pray for a miracle, for a ghostly possession that brings back the house, the lovers that she kept tied to her adolescent charms, to her quick tongue, her wide eyes, her immaculate innocence. Oddly enough, she feels as attracted to torment as her lovers to tormented minds.
Whenever I come back I must fight to regain the ground yielded to time. I must undergo the difficult process of shedding skin and organs and assume the loss of the other – and with her goes her conquests, since when I left, she remained there to keep my keys, to scent my sheets, to parade her translucent body at the incredulous gaze of my friends and lovers (her friends, her lovers). Even so, there is something exceptionally edifying and instructive in loss, an enlightening realisation that comes from experiencing other people’s rejection to change: We cannot be liked by everyone. And even if we could, not every single version of ourselves would be able to please every single version of everyone else. Evolution, however, must occur regardless. I have also learned that time provides with the capacity to cause indifference – a gift I have utterly lacked through a huge part of my life. I am losing enemies, too, and that is not more pleasant than losing friends.
Finally, coming back allows me to unhurriedly reminisce, to organise, to forgive, to take inventory of myself and embark on the adventure of re-prioritising the bonds that rely on the being rather than the state – there is a certain paraphilic love for condition (in all senses of the term) and “characteristic” in the latter.
Every time I return I am overwhelmed by the newly acquired value of vagueness, by the amount of life trapped in the “dead” interval in between frames. Coming back means revaluating love, bearing a deep disenchantment with like and eventually realising that transition and evolution hold infinitely greater importance than the whimsical fixation of appetite.