Here is global nomad Andre Aciman on his habit of summoning his lost past, and consequently, his lost self at the seaside:
Drop me in Nice or in Anzio or in East Hampton as someone’s guest and early on Sunday morning I will look for any excuse to go out to buy the paper and take the long way, not because I need to read the paper or because I need to be alone, but because I want to take time out and think that I am going on a very familiar errand, that I know exactly what I’m doing, and that any moment now I’ll end up pushing open a very old gate whose squeak I can’t forget. As long as I keep expecting to arrive there and never really hurry back, I will, if I try hard enough, make out the voices of people who have long since died but have suddenly come back and are beginning to complain that I’ve been gone too long and have almost missed breakfast.
If I long for the sea or for Alexandria, it is because, with the sea around me, I can begin to rebuild my life, put things back together again, pick up where I believe I left off. I collate little snippets of the past, the way those who’ve been deported map out every corner of their city, their street, their temple.
I look for the sea everywhere, because the sea was the backdrop for almost all the scenes of my childhood. I look for my childhood, for my own gaze looking out at the sea. What I want is not to swim but to have the pleasure of “finding the sea,” of guessing and spying the sea, of suggesting the sea, the way children today play at “finding Waldo”—because in finding the sea I find myself.
False Papers: Essays on Exile and Memory
Originally posted Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013