Madeline Blount
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Upon Waking, and Placelessness

March 8, 2009 @ 10:10 AM | Permalink

In that place between sleeping and waking, where the smoke of any dream you may have had mingles with the fog that hasn't blown off from the morning -- in this non-place, you can convince yourself of anything.  Here five minutes becomes an extra hour slept, or the dream-image of your mouth without teeth becomes reality, or the corners of your ceiling become home instead of very far away.  It was here that I found myself a few nights ago, or mornings rather, absolutely certain that I was somehow in Portland, Oregon rather than in Nicosia.

It was the bird call that did it.  Cockatiels are popular pets in Cyprus; the little grey birds with orange cheeks and yellow crests can live outside on apartment balconies here when it's not too cold.  I have a cockatiel in the US, and have had her for years.  Her screech is as familiar as the feeling of the door knob to my old room, or the distinct sounds of different family members walking down the stairs.  So in Cyprus, on the morning after a warm night, a neighbor's cockatiel transported me across spacetimes for a fleeting but very real instant.

Traveling can encourage thinking about a distinct sense of place; sometimes here I take walks just to soak up the Difference of Cyprus, absorbing its old shuttered houses and crumbling mosques and smokey conversations at outdoor cafes.  Or the infuriating but very Cypriot habit of parking cars on the sidewalks.  But moments like my cockatiel awakening thrust me into a kind of placelessness, where for all purposes practical or otherwise I could be anywhere -- it can also be when a Nicosia bar reminds me of London, when a Nike store makes me think of Oregon, or when clouds hug the Kyrenia mountain range and it looks like my imagined view of Africa.  When we travel or even when we imagine, we collect places.  When the places fuse, it's like a deja vu of space instead of time.

I eventually woke up definitively in Nicosia.  Other sounds (the cars honking on the streets, the call to prayer) made me sure of this fact.  But even my experience of Cyprus as a place is one that is continually being forged, where my imagination of it meets the reality of its streets and people, and somewhere in the middle is what I will file away in my memory.  Where it will surely get folded in with other places I have been and have yet to go.  And one day, in Paris or Nepal or Portland, I will awake in Cyprus.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

Posted on 3/23/2009 by

Saleem Reshamwala

Saleem Reshamwala

Loved the ending on this. Related: I find that sometimes I remember a meeting or moment but can't recall what country it happened in. I also find that if I speak more than one language during a long conversation, my memory kind of loses the ability to directly quote anything. The meanings stick around, but the words are gone.

Posted on 3/26/2009 by

Madeline Blount

Madeline Blount

Thanks Saleem -- I've also experienced that tonguetied delirium from speaking multiple languages in the same conversation. . . interesting to think of meaning separate from words, does meaning require language to express it? hope you're well in Japan!

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Loved the ending on this. Related: I find that sometimes I remember a meeting or moment but can't recall what country it happened in. I also find that if I ...

Saleem Reshamwala on Upon Waking, and Placelessness 2009-03-23

Thanks Saleem -- I've also experienced that tonguetied delirium from speaking multiple languages in the same conversation. . . interesting to think of meaning separate from words, does meaning require ...

Madeline Blount on Upon Waking, and Placelessness 2009-03-26
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