At every crossroad in my life, I have found myself returning to the words, the places, the music, the art that carried me before. Volver. Retourner. Zurückkehren.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez once wrote that “the heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and that thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burden of the past.” I think that little tool of survival also helps us confront the future. And I confront it with Schubert in my ears, poetry open on my lap and photos of moments now passed.
Moving forward and saying your goodbyes isn’t easy, especially when you have been living for so long from city to city. Seeking and seeking. It’s even stranger when you realize that in so many ways, you always will go back to where you started.
I am counting down the days left in Europe and suddenly I’m remembering everything differently; nostalgia is a trickster and fear is his accomplice. It leaves you crossing yourself and muttering prayers.
But in honor of that cunning fox, memory, here are pieces of what was and is and will be.
Love Song by Rilke
How shall I hold my soul so it does not
touch on yours. How shall I lift it
over you to other things?
Ah, willingly I’d store it away
with some lost thing in the dark,
in some strange still place, that
does not tremble when your depths tremble.
But all that touches us, you and me,
takes us, together, like the stroke of a bow,
that draws one chord out of the two strings.
On what instrument are we strung?
And what artist has us in their hand?
O sweet song.
“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.” — Anais Nin
“I composed a beautiful letter to you in the sleepless nightmare hours of the night, and it has all gone: I just miss you, in a quite simple desperate human way. You, with all your un-dumb letters, would never write so elementary a phrase as that; perhaps you wouldn’t even feel it. And yet I believe you’ll be sensible of a little gap. But you’d clothe it in so exquisite a phrase that it would lose a little of its reality. Whereas with me it is quite stark: I miss you even more than I could have believed; and I was prepared to miss you a good deal. So this letter is just really a squeal of pain. It is incredible how essential to me you have become. I suppose you are accustomed to people saying these things.” — A letter from Vita Sackville-West to Virgina Woolf