Jul 3rd, 2019, 12:30 PM

A Space, No Place: Literary Musings From The End of Our Trip

By Clothilde Morin
How do we leave a space without actually leaving the place ?

On a journey, have you ever wished not to return home? I certainly have many times indeed. But as far as I remember there was a day when my wish to stay was very alike the others - September 24, the day of my return from Portugal. 

FARO AIRPORT - September 24, 2018 

We have just arrived at Faro Airport - the same we left five days ago with three of my friends. Ahead of us, there is an empty, concrete space surrounded by roads that gives the airport an octopus shape. A few palm trees stand here and there, just like those we had seen along the main street of Portimao, that indicated the path to the sea...  On my left, there is a clock that looks exactly like those we find hanging in the halls of train stations: it is 2:45 p.m. I imagine the sounds of the clock, that horrible "tick-tock," that sadistic song! It reminds me that I have no control over time, and I beg, "Please! At least let me stay!" 
 
Faro Airport. Image credit: Clothilde Morin. 
It is 2:58 p.m., my friends have finished smoking and they are going inside the terminal. "Are you coming or what?" I wish not! 
 
The terminal is a huge curved space with a too high and outrageously luminous ceiling that prevents me from seeing clearly. When I put my sunglasses back on, I realize that there is no sound here, only a weird buzz that I can't describe - but I am hearing music, thanks to four days of beats! Following my friends blindly towards the supermarket, I realize that I am particularly hungry. Although we have not eaten for what appears to me days, I stay away from the transparent counter - looking at those sandwiches puts me off and my friends seem to have the same opinion. We buy croissants knowing that they won't taste good and now I am missing Portuguese food even more! There is still that taste of grilled chicken in my mouth...  I hope Son will make lasagna for dinner. 
 
We sit and I close my eyes. Here my tinnitus recedes and my vision becomes clearer. I am surrounded by the beach, walking with my friends towards the end: thus appears my memory of the sea. It is 3:30 p.m. and I am now looking at them - those people standing and laying on the sand. Then, there are those crazy men in the too cold water. Najid and François are fighting, Son is looking. Maybe I should have swum too.
 
It might have been dangerous though... to swim around these lovely morons! I want to be blind and deaf as I still feel the place. Remembering is like Najid's knee wound in the salty sea - extremely painful, except that this time it doesn't make me laugh! "Najid, we told you not to go into the water!" There, I see that fat woman looking straight at me with her happy face. I wish I could be the memory of her in my mind so that I could stay. There is also the man sitting with his dog. Time goes by and as the place starts to vanish I realize that I am now carried by nothing more than the shadows of my friends. 
 

Dreaming of the beach. Image credit: Clothilde Morin. 
4:12 p.m. As I look back where I was at 4:05, walking through the security gates, I remember the instantaneous "tock" followed by that feeling of hopelessness; the "tock" that finished my trip, for it was there that I knew I had to abandon all wishes for delay or cancellation and welcome back the rhythm of my daily life. Speaking of now, there is nothing interesting here. We are sitting against  one of the walls of the main corridor. However, I am amazed by the scene taking place just in front of our eyes in the boarding area. Three young men who apparently attended the BPM Festival, (evident from the blue bracelets we all sport), are woken up by a fellow passenger... 
 
Tired festival goers awake from a nap in the terminal. Image credit: Clothilde Morin. 
It is 4:14 p.m. and I am still amazed by these guys. They seem unable to emerge from their dreams. One in particular can't even stand up. Staring at his blank eyes, I am trying to read his mind. "What is he thinking about? Is he still moved by the set of Nicole Moudaber, Appollonia or even Chris Liebing, like we were? Or is he like me, thinking about his return?" It is 4:16 p.m. and they finally left but I my gaze has not moved from the spot where they were sleeping. It is empty now, and my mood darkens: T. S. Eliot's voice is speaking in my head.  
"This is the dead land
This is cactus land"

"Clo." 

"The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here 
In this valley of dying stars 
In this hollow valley"

"Clothilde! Did you tell Salomé and Emillien we're arriving around 9?" 

"Our dried voices, when 
We whisper together 
Are quiet and meaningless" 

"No." 

In between time. Image credit: Clothilde Morin. 
In my case, all those sweet memories that have been living in my head have now vanished, and I am stressed by the crowds of Paris as I enter the departure lounge. 4:55 p.m. - my deadly fatigue is increasing as we wait like cows in a slaughterhouse. The thought obscures my mood even more. I am annoyed and I think my friends are, too, but I don't know. We don't speak. We are not sitting next to each other anymore... Najid, playing with his phone, seems impenetrable. Son is trying to sleep and François is staring at something. It might be that girl there... "Do they ever stop?" At least this one does not wear stickers on her nipples as her only clothing, like those 35 year old women at the festival.
 
It is 5:30 p.m. "Finally! Thank god! We are leaving." As the plane takes off I look out the window: I am now able to stare at the whole city whereas my mind sees nothing but Paris. 
 

Back home

I certainly wished not to return home, but I am glad I did. The new relationship I had built with my friends during this trip got stronger over time. I understand now why I wanted to stay. I wasn't sad because we were leaving Faro, I was scared that in leaving, our group would lose its closeness and I am glad this didn't happen. And you, what's the story of the space you didn't want to leave? 
 
  • Faro. Image credit: Clothilde Morin.

  • Silhouettes in the water. Image credit: Clothilde Morin.

  • BPM Festival Portugal. Image credit: Clothilde Morin.

  • Sunny side. Image credit: Clothilde Morin.

1 / 1