Just a week to go. And then a leap across the earth to my other life. This morning I read interviews with two Croatian authors, Slavenka Drakulic and Dubravka Ugresic. Both live in excile, Drakulic divides her time between Vienna and Stockholm and a new home in Istria, Ugresic lives in Amsterdam. I admire these two women immensely. Not for their writing – I don’t know it – but for their ability to make a full life out of their imposed excile. I have chosen mine and still struggle to make it a coherent whole. Or perhaps this is why. I have a choice, so I constantly consider my situation instead of immersing myself in my life, such as it is. Drakulic says in the interview that she doesn’t mind the fact that she is not properly assimilated in any of the communities where she lives. ‘I like being on the fringe,’ she says. ‘Everything is more clearly observed from there.’ And Ugresic says: At this stage in my life (she is sixty) I am often content with being like an island. There is much that I escape. I don’t understand what people talk about on the bus, in shops, at the cafe, and I don’t need to respond, or take any responsbility. It is actually rather nice.’
I wish I could learn to apply such a perspective. Some days I believe I can. Yesterday was such a day. I spent hours wandering the streets in the rain, watching the city and the people who live here. It didn’t matter that I was on my own. I thought I saw it more clearly than ever. But then today, again I am overcome by a sense of dislodgement and loneliness. A longing to belong. To be inside.