My friend Nora says I’m living in the past.
I know she’s right. The past is my refuge, a safe haven from a disappointing present, where each day seems equal to the previous one, with no good surprises, no joy, no enthusiasm, no exciting happenings… just this terrible solitude.
And this past is a mix of the more distant years, decades ago, when I was young and reckless and life was a source of excitement – it seemed each day brought with it a new adventure, every sunrise and sunset held promise and the world was at my feet. I was always surrounded by people, I was loved, even admired; I had a full life; full of dreams, love, friends, expectations… I had fun; life was fun. Of course, there were some setbacks too, worries, some pain even, but they become indistinct in the mist that benevolently covers all bad things from the past, making us remember only the good ones, and these were so much more than the others!
Then there’s the more recent years, when I mostly remember a full house with my sons, always coming in and out, bringing friends, eating a lot, noisy and boisterous as boys are, but always there. Doing things with them, like eating a pizza on Sunday evenings or watching their rugby matches; even before that, taking them to school in the morning, listening to our favourite songs on the car stereo, and singing. Starting the day with joy, energised, and looking forward to the rest of it, and to the time when we’d all be home again. Together.
And then the memories with Nuno. From our early, ecstatically happy days, when we were so much in love and thought our story would go on forever. The memories I have from those days! Hidden, at first, in dark corners of cosy restaurants and going for secret weekends on far away, quiet spots; and then being able to show ourselves to the world, and sharing so many wonderful moments together, making so many memories; our romantic escapades to Italy, our walks on the beach, sitting on a terrace with a sea view on a sunny winter day, drinking a Martini all by ourselves at home in the evening while watching the sunset from our window… they would never end.
Even memories with Nuno and the boys together, like our trip to Mozambique and the safaris on Kruger Park, when we got out of the jeep for a drink and a snack at the magical pink hour when the sun was going down and the scent of Africa invaded us, and we felt her heart beating so close to ours…
In a couple of years all of this has changed. Nuno and I realized our relationship was not going to last forever, with all the pain it entailed. But the hard truth had been dawning on us for years – we simply had to accept it. My boys left home, to live their lives. Thank God my friends, my dear friends, are still there for me, at least, or it would have been unbearable.
I say to my dear Nora, no wonder I’m stuck in the past. The distant, and the more recent one. How could I not, when its colours are so vivid, against the pale shades of today? This void around me is colourless, uninteresting, with no joy and little hope in the future. So, I time travel to the past, I dive into old photos, letters, diaries, and other stuff, but most of all I see the images in my mind, and I just want to stay there.
I know this cannot last forever. I know I must come back and face the present, no matter how hard it may seem. And start looking forward to the future. But I seem to be unable to do this yet, the past and its memories keep pulling me back and I let myself be dragged. Happily.
So, my dear Nora, let me stay in the past, even if it is just for another day. Let me go back and enjoy my memories, because I don’t think I’ll be making new ones any time soon.
Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on Pexels