I don’t know which ocean, it’s not like I can check my flight details. I just get here. And I land on this wet pebble road. I can see my dark brown leather boots, my feet taking hesitant steps up the hill.
It’s so foggy, but I can still see the ocean all around the small island through the white floating veils. It feels as if the island, like a round bellied woman, is shy and has shrouded herself in these white silk veils, barely covering her, hiding and revealing at the same time.
I can see stone houses in the distance, wet and slippery, streams of fog sliding down their rooftops. No light, no candles burning at the windows, not a soul. I keep walking up that hill. As I’m squinting, trying to catch sight of a living soul, I’m starting to wonder what made me come here in the first place. Why in the world would I leave the comfort of my home country for this deserted place in the middle of the ocean?
Because you wanted to leave the past behind, I hear my own voice in my head. You want a new life. You said goodbye to all your attachments, another reminder pops up. You no longer wanted the dark cave of the lost. You set them all free. It’s ok, I’ll only be here for a short while, I say to myself in an unconvincing tone.
Everything hurts. As if everything has been pulled and stretched when cords were cut. So my eyes are heavy, my head is tied in a plastic bag, my throat is befriending the cactus stuck in there, my kidneys carry the burden of exhaustion and all my muscles are sore as if I’ve swum and walked all the way here.
Suddenly, I’m back at the school again, feeding the children black grapes.
“Are you all right?” a colleague asks me.
“I think so”, I reply. “I just need to get some fruit.”
“You know, Daniela, I’ve always admired how you are always in charge, always so strong and authoritarian and loving at the same time.”
“Really? I’m just tired, I don’t think there’s anything to admire there.”
And as he’s helping me give out the grapes, I’m popping grape berries in my mouth and suddenly realize I’m dreaming and I’m thinking grapes, no matter how sweet and juicy, are not good in your dreams. So I wake up.
It’s noon when I get out of bed. There’s this pressure in my ears as if I’m underwater. I take off everything, including the bed sheets, put everything in the washing machine and get in the shower. When I get out, I light a candle at my window, one at the bathroom mirror, another one on the kitchen countertop and two more on the table. Time for a new life.
PS Photos taken in Porto, Portugal, in 3-5 September 2016.