Who are you?
I’ve been re-reading my diaries over the past two months, with a view to travelling light. I’m moving on again and want to carry memories, not evidence. I’m at the end of the last millennium in this task – and that’s where I am stopping for now. The 2000+ text will travel with me – I need that hard copy for a while. Over the years, my handwriting changed – I experimented a bit, broke bones, pre-cell-phone-drunk-texted, tried different media, wrote on the move – but I can still hear my voice on the page. I listen and recognise familiar tones from a distance, through remembered tears and laughter. It’s me alright, but it’s not who I am. Not now.
What are you?
Damascus was my second foreign posting. I chose it with my heart not my head. My interviewer presented me with a list of vacancies, ones she judged suitable for my skill set. All other locations were sold to me with animated, attractive descriptions – perfect for career development, ideal for those who enjoy outdoor recreation (she knew me well), opportunities to learn new skills, lowest staff turnover in the network. Damascus was still and silent. She didn’t know me that well. I asked about the job. There was a moment’s pause and a flicker of anxiety before she replied: ‘They need someone with your qualifications and experience’. That was it. When I arrived, I heard all she hadn’t said and felt the full impact of the pause in that workplace. Yet, I knew my decision wouldn’t have been any different. I had wanted to want to be there. The people of the city showed me why. They took me in: ‘What are you?’ they asked. They understood we all must be something. Now, I understand.
Where are you?
I move often and migrate at (almost) regular intervals so, from time to time, I receive texts, calls or emails asking ‘Where are you?’ A friend sent one such recently and I replied with one of my ‘in transit’ messages; giving date of departure, route out, date of arrival and destination. You see, I’m neither here nor there. Here, unrelenting waves of refugees and political rhetoric have washed over the national psyche so extensively that I believe the country no longer recognises itself in this uneasy stasis. I catch glimpses of my Greece when I’m off-guard, but it’s not where I am. Not now.