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Takes A Second To Say Goodbye

I’m sitting in the Greyhound bus to Ottawa. And I’m crying.

My bag on my lap, a Coke in my hand. I’m staring at the window and the landscape is flashing by. Way too quickly — the bus driver is going fast, very fast. We are passing all the big trucks on the freeway, which isn’t such a good idea considering it’s getting dark and it’s still icy. I do like I always do when I’m not in control and there isn’t much I can do: I close my eyes and I let myself be carried away by the engine’s humming sound and vibration. I learned this trick in Latin America: we took so many night buses, so many deadly rides, full speed as if we were sucked in by the black tar.

The sun is setting on the horizon. There is still a lot of snow on both sides of the road. The scenary is Canada’s picture-perfect. Symmetrical rows of trees on both sides of the road, a broad freeway cutting in-between, flat land as far as the eye can see. A beautiful sunset in the crisp cold sky. Not a single cloud. The sky fades in gradient colors: blue to navy blue to dark blue. In the right corner of the window, a red stain, the sun, slowly hiding behind the forests.

Been there, done that. I left and I arrived so many times I lost track of it. Correr es mi destino. To run is my destiny. And I chose mine.

I could have had a simple life. I grew up in a nice city in a first world country. I didn’t escape misery, war or poverty. I escape boredom, no future and narrow-mindedness.

But Bono is wrong. It so doesn’t take a second to say goodbye. It takes ages, it’s painful, it’s a difficult exercise that makes me feel like a coward every single time. Am I still running away? It seems like I left a little piece of my heart in every single place I have ever been to. It seems like I made an art of abandoning people. None of that is probably true but just thinking of it just makes me sob harder.

— Are you sad to come back?

I’m sad because I don’t know whether I’m coming back or leaving. I’m sad because I don’t know when I will be where. I’m sadder when people are sad around me. And I wish I belonged somewhere, anywhere but somewhere. I have so many reasons to be sad that I don’t even see why I should be happy right now.

I am La Desaparecida in France, I am a 老外 (or even a 白鬼子) in China, I am a gringa in Latin America, I am a refused alien in the USA, I am “French but not Quebec French, France French” in Canada, and I don’t even know when I have the chance to be myself. I change my life like one changes his underwear and I end up not knowing who I am. French in Canada, Canadian in France, no one everywhere or someone nowhere?

I lost my roots and the ability to see the world in black or white. Everything looks grey now, nothing is that easy. Hard to have the usual prejudices on people when you’ve traveled the world and shared their lives. Hard to truly believe in politics either, after seeing the benefits and downsides of everything. And above all, hard to be patriotic without an homeland.

I’m lost.

A few years ago, in San Pedro, gringo city in Lago de Atitlán, Southern Guatemala. Good place for deep philosophical questions. I had asked Feng where he belonged. We were sitting in a bar, drinking what would certainly be too much. “La maison pas“, he had answered in broken French. “No home“. This is me now, this is us now.

Ottawa. This is where I get off. For now.

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