Walking down a street, lying on the lush green grass in sunny weather, or wandering in the middle of a crowd of people who have flocked from all over the world, we feel like the stepchild of the foreign country or city we live in, with a sadness that never diminishes and even increases day by day.
We often think that we will find what we are looking for, that mysterious unknown, whatever it is, in the chaos of a distant city. We’ll buy tickets for the ships going there. We put aside the passing seasons we are living in, and think hard about our dream place, we struggle with plans that we cannot know the outcome of, but we always believe will have a happy ending. We look for that great happiness in the light shining in the window of a house we cannot see.
How harmoniously things flowed in the first days, months and even a few years. Suddenly, in the middle of the night, or in the morning, or when we are wandering around the city, whispers begin to rise up from within us. We realize that the restlessness that fills our ears, the cause of which we cannot find, is actually a heavy mass in our heart, slowing us down. And then we face the fact that we have exhausted the distant places we dreamed of, that they no longer console us, that perhaps they never embraced us in the first place.
In the mornings, when we open our windows to a dark sky, we miss the color and smell of our original lands where we flew together with migratory birds. Our eyes constantly search for seagulls, thanking us with pieces of bagel in their mouths.
The sea is not the same clear blue in the distance, nor do the rivers show pebbles one by one. As we walk, sounds from somewhere are ready to deceive us at any moment. We try to liken it to the peddler’s tunes of the city we leave behind. We hear the cheerful voices of women talking on street corners or doorsteps. We walk silently step by step with our hands in our pockets, just walking…
No dice sounds from any sidewalk, for example. The people of distant lands have never tasted the generosity of the shopkeeper who takes the backgammon under his arm and says, “The tea is on me.” The echoes of fast footsteps devour the over-ordered cobblestones.
At first we are deceived by the bright streets. In the glow of the crowd, the fun, the activity, our eyes search for the ridge lights with sadness. Whichever way we turn our heads, we try to find those meaningful words that speak to us in the city skies.
Time! Oh, time that flows like an age from its bed! It lulls us to sleep, takes us in and grinds us insidiously. It crams five different parts of the day into one big mouthful. When we take a breath on a bench, we look for a human voice with a melodious tune calling us, but we cannot find it. When our feet lose their bearings, we find ourselves standing in the dressing room of a cold department store with a compass in the palm of our hand.
And the holidays!
On feast days, when we want to be with those we love most, we dance hand in hand with our children to the song “Today is the feast,” under a few balloons hung sadly from trees in the city parks. While they chase the flying soap bubbles, we add the passage of another holiday to our calendars. We are afraid to count how many seasons have passed and how many more will pass softly under the earth.
There is a false essence in the scent of the distant. We understand. There we look for the smell of bread fresh out of the oven, the scent of honeysuckle wafting from the balconies into the neighborhood, the sound of the grape-grape seller, the smell of mother’s cooking on the stove as we pass by a house. Even knowing we won’t find it.
Neither trains whistle here, nor are there ferries docking enthusiastically among the waves. High speed trains speed past. Ready and skillful to throw us at any moment into other embraces where no one else is.
As we try to slow down, our loneliness hangs from our feet. We throw ourselves into nature the most. Only lush gardens can relieve our captivity. Yes, it is a captivity from which it is difficult and even challenging to break free. “Living where you are full,” is the name of life. We lie on the fresh, clean grass and watch the sky. We send greetings with the passing clouds, imagining our loved ones at that moment. When we are talking to ourselves, a little squirrel comes and sits by our bedside and listens to us the best. He shares peanuts from his stash to disperse our sadness for a moment. We’ll have a chat and say goodbye to him too.
If it is autumn, we turn and walk home, finding solace among the fallen leaves. Towards home. The house we thought had bright lights. Where we thought the house would be.
And suddenly we cling to the idea of returning to our original home. Hopefully, we begin to dream of the day when we will board the ship we came on and return to the home we left behind. And the next morning, when we open our window to a sunny day, everything starts all over again. The distant will succeed in deceiving us again.