Thursday, July 5, 2007

A la Recherche du Temps Perdu

Sorry, Mr Proust. I like your book too much not to borrow the title.

In my own way I've also searched for my lost time, traveling halfway around the world back to the places of my childhood and adolescence. My feet started pacing the same old sidewalks while my heart was fluttering with memories and expectation. The sights and sounds being registered to my senses were not quite the same but still familiar, so how come I felt like a stranger among these familiar surroundings?

Could it be because my psyche had shifted a long way and no longer in tune with this land, or the spirit of the land had changed and no longer accommodated an estranged native?

I went to an old friend's home. The gardens in the neighborhood had disappeared, replaced by garish townhouses. I was relieved to see my friend's house still standing even though the white walls and brick-colored windows looked old and blemished. I could recognize the attic where I'd often spent hours rummaging through the used books which had opened my eyes to a new, fascinating world despite being stacked away in a narrow, dusty space.

Only strange faces greeted me when I walked in. My friend's family had left, renting the house to some students of a nearby college. I turned back, my feet less light and my steps less brisk.

Hours later I was ringing the doorbell of another old friend. She opened the door and did not recognize me. I couldn't help it so I grinned and immediately heard she call out my name. Twenty odd years had passed and she still remembered my grin.

So I did find a bit of my temps perdu. What I had not realized before was that I did not have to travel that far to find my lost time. A part of it had been residing in my grin all along.

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