Apr 232013

I had come here doing what all exiles do on impulse, which is to look for their homeland abroad, to bridge the things here to things there, to rewrite the present so as not to write off the past. I wanted to rescue things everywhere, as though by restoring them here I might restore them elsewhere as well.

I wanted everything to remain the same. Because this too is typical of people ho have lost everything, including their roots or their ability to grow new ones. It is precisely because you have no roots that you don’t budge, that you fear change, that you’ll build on anything rather than look for land. An exile is not just someone who has lost his home; it is someone who can’t find another, who can’t think of another. Some no longer even know what home means. They reinvent the concept with what they’ve got, the way we reinvent love with what’s left of it each time. Some people bring exile with them the way they bring it upon themselves wherever they go.

—Andre Aciman in “Shadow Cities”, in: Letters of Transit: Reflections on Exile, Identity, Language and Loss, Andre Aciman, ed.

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