For the global nomad, every place brings to mind somewhere else, as Andre Aciman so deftly conveys:
I could never understand or appreciate New York unless I could make it the mirror—call it the mnemonic correlative—of other cities I’ve known or imagined. No Mediterranean can look at a sunset in Manhattan and not think of another sunset thousands of miles away. No Mediterranean can stand looking at the tiny lights speckling the New Jersey cliffs at night and not remember a galaxy of little fishing boats that go out to sea at night, dotting the water with their tiny lights till dawn, when they come back to shore. But it is not New Jersey I see when I watch the sunset from Riverside Drive.
The real New York I never see either. I see only the New York that either sits in for other places or helps me summon them up. New York is the stand-in, the ersatz of all the things I can remember and cannot have, and may not even want, much less love, but continue to look for, because finding parallels can be more compelling than finding a home, because without parallels, there can’t be a home, even if in the end it is the comparing that we like, not the objects we compare. Outside of comparing, we cannot feel…
False Papers: Essays on Exile and Memory
Originally posted Wednesday, July 17th, 2013