“I’ve been here 10 years.”
He says as he takes a sip on his beer. “How come?” I ask smiling.
“I don’t know. I was travelling and somehow got stuck here. And now 10 years have passed.” He laughs as he looks away embarrased. You could see the toll of those 10 years by looking at him. He had aged but also remained young. His skin grew a somber tone and is now full of visible scars. Each scar has its own story. Every story with its unhealed wounds. He wanted to look younger than he was. Stronger than he ever would be. We remain silent for a moment.
My gaze also wanders across the beach. I lost myself in the depths.
“I mean, back home I’d only have a 9 to 5 job, earn my money and after work just hang out with my buddies who also have a 9 to 5 job, and every night in the pub we’d probably just talk about our 9 to 5 job.”
Full of expectation, he looks at me. I don’t know what to say. Is life at home really so dreary? – I think to myself. And as if he could see through me, he answers: “It’s better here than at home in the cold. Or is it not?” He laughs again. This time it is a clearly louder laughter. That’s true. I think again.
“And after that?”
“Must there be one after?” No it does not have to. Sure. We keep silent again. I feel strange. As if I had asked something wrong. As if it would be inappropriate of me to think about the future.
A few days later I realize that I was the only one that would return home after a few weeks. Everyone else was set to stay for several months if not years.
And the questions are always the same:
Where did you come from?
Where are you going?
When do you go back?
And so I answer patiently. Countless times. It is as if they were asking:
How long will you dream?
When will you wake up?
I knew when it would end. After exactly 30 days, after one month. My ticket back to reality. As the day approached, I saw their pitiful looks.
“Only 2 days left”. She looks at me with her eyes wide open. I smiled.
“Wow, I couldn’t do that. That would be so strange at home.” She lights her cigarette and throws the pack on the table.
“I haven’t been there for years. I don’t know if I would recognize them everyone at all”.
“No homesickness I suppose.” Actually only a rhetorical question but something better did not occur to me.
“Homesick?! For God’s sake, I’m glad I’m gone and don’t have to see anyone anymore.” And as if she had to underline that again, she says:
“For God’s sake.”
This time I said nothing. She was also tanned, almost too dark. Tattoos covered her whole body. In some the color was almost gone, some were still fresh. Like souvenirs, she collected them from every country.
Souvenirs of paradise. Fragments of unrealized dreams
They didn’t want to wake up. Neither of them wanted. They thought they would travel light, leaving all their worries behind, carrying only their memories with them all the time. I didn’t know why they didn’t want to go back. Why one of them had such a panic-stricken fear of a “9 to 5 job” when imagining his future. And I also didn’t know why she didn’t miss her home. I knew, however, that they were running away. From the truth and from themselves. They lived in a dream. They have created an ideal space for themselves to no longer think of their legacy. And it may be that it was a beautiful dream and a rather long one even. But, all beautiful, long dreams must come to an end sometime, otherwise they lose their magic. Moments only become special when we feel that they are no longer reproducible. Probably they will stay there for a long time, if not forever. They will flee to other dreams, to another paradise.
What they don’t know is that they could flee to anywhere but not from themselves.
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