Há uns dias estava a ouvir música no YouTube quando me apareceu este anúncio. Conseguiu aquilo que é quase impossível: vê-lo até ao fim, ao invés de saltar assim que possível para o vídeo que de facto queria ver. E, enquanto eu continuo sem escrever – nos dias bons porque não tenho tempo; nos dias maus porque não tenho vontade – volta a sair um texto antigo – desta vez um, em inglês, que escrevi para o concurso da Navigator Around the World (e que não foi selecionado, coisa que a minha autoestima tenta justificar com o facto de ter havido mais de 1300 textos candidatos). Sei que o dia é para a Poesia, mas como nunca me deu para isso fico com a prosa.
To the prisoners of freedom
I think I can say it all started in late September, when I met my aunt in the corner of an unknown street in Ljubljana: home was now a very different concept. A couple of weeks before I had left my hometown to do a one-year exchange program in Austria. And now here I was, in Ljubljana, having just spent 7 hours on a night-train, preparing myself to stay clandestine on the floor of my aunts’ hotel room – the kind of things you do when you have more will to travel than money to actually do it.
It was a great trip: I was able to experience the cool atmosphere of the capital of Slovenia, amaze myself with the Škocjan Caves, see the beautiful Lake Bled, and fall in love with Lake Bonhinj. My eyes were delighted with all they had been lucky to see; my soul was full of the happiness one can only gain from seeing beautiful landscapes.
And, still, why did my voice shake when I said goodbye to my aunt with a “see you in Christmas”? Why did I cry when I realized that I would spend nearly three months without seeing any member of my family? Why, if I was feeling blessed for having a year to live and travel abroad?
Two months and a half have passed since that bittersweet goodbye in the Central Train Station of Ljubljana. I had the chance to visit several cities in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and even Liechtenstein and, living in a wonderland of mountains and snow, I once again reminded myself that the sublime imposingness of Nature holds a special place in my heart. I often remember what I realized when I was flying away of my country: wouldn’t my 5-years-old me be proud of myself, going alone, without family and friends to support me, to live in a country where I had never been and I knew no one, and where I would have to struggle (and, god, do I struggle!) to master the language? Yes, she would be so proud of such courage, I repeat to myself. But, nevertheless, I find my same self counting the days until my flight home for Christmas with the same excitement of a child eating, daily, the chocolates of his or her Advent Calendar.
I want to go home. I want to hug my parents. I want to see my grandparents. I miss my friends. I have a new baby nephew on the way and my uncle just got a dog. I am having the time of my life; yet, I am homesick.
But, if I had stayed home, would I realise how much I appreciate my life back home? Of course not, I would be complaining about the tediousness of my daily routine. Travelling, filling yourself with stories to tell about chaotic cities, beautiful sunsets and all the kind strangers along the way, paradoxically gives you more will to go home. Maybe it is because stories are a bit useless if you have no one to tell them to; or maybe it is just because travelling is only finished when you arrive somewhere: home. We might travel because we are free to do so, but we always find along the way we are prisoners of our own roots.