I wonder what Aristotle felt on lonely nights in Athens? I wonder what tangible reminders of Stageira he retained and whether he missed Athens while tutoring Alexander in Macedon and then Macedon when he returned to Athens and finally, all of them when he ended his days in Chalcis, on Euboea?
Like many expatriates I sit surrounded by mementos, bittersweet reminders of happy times now nestled in the past, carved in bittersweet memories. Sweet moments bitter because they’re bygone. Sweet because they permit us to relive the joy they represent, at least until we remember that joy is now just shadows and echoes.
Beautiful shadows and meaningful echoes though. Like those that bring back to life, if for just an instant, the sheer delight of Christmas mornings with my sons, wrapping papers everywhere, breakfast half eaten in the rush to open presents; like those recalling similar moments when I too was a child and my parents were still here. When my brother and my sister and I were still together rather than spread amidst several continents and several decades.
Mementos that bring back to life, albeit briefly, the many, many places I’ve lived. Too many really; and the many, many people I’ve known all to briefly as I’ve constantly moved on, a tale all too familiar to too many of us in this globalized and mobile modern world. The many women I’ve cared for and the few I’ve loved. The promise that gazing at the moon would always keep us together, no matter where we were.
Bittersweet mementos, bridges linking pasts with presents and futures. Crystalized melancholy to keep us warm on cold winter days, accumulated and accumulating still, in places always a bit too far away.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.
Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen). Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.