The Solace of Open Spaces

by darribas

Been reading a bit of Gretel Ehrlich lately. I spent last weekend back Home for a quick break from work and from feeling a foreigner. I sure had the former. I needed to reconnect, if only for a couple of days, with a part of my life I know is slipping away by the day. The crisis is turning the country where I grew up into a different place; my friends have left like me or moved on to something else; I, too, have changed. These days work takes up most of my time and brain power. I’m passionate about every bit, I see a greater end to it and, being very far away from my partner, putting more time now buys me more time to spend with her in the future. But it is also a trap. Unless you make a great effort, it is very easy to forget why you do it, what the real Ends are and, before you know, to find yourself into inertia and directionless moving. That’s partially why I went Home. Because, even if “the past is a foreign country”, every once in a while, it’s good to be a tourist. And so I was. There is something inherently right to being with Friends and family, to being understood before you say anything. There are certain feelings that are off the list for me here in Amsterdam but that just show up as soon as I set feet Home, and I want them to be part of me. As my train was riding through Los Monegros, transporting me back to my present life, Ehrlich’s words resonated at the back of my mind before I closed my eyes and fell asleep:

“[…] We Americans are great on fillers, as if what we have, what we are, is not enough. We have a cultural tendency toward denial but, being affluent, we strangle ourselves with what we can buy. We have only to look at the houses we build to see how we build against space, the way we drink against pain and loneliness. We fill up space as if it were a pie shell, with things whose opacity further obstructs our ability to see what is already here.”

“The solace of open spaces” G. Ehrlich (1985)