It’s a strange condition, being a foreigner everywhere, in the land you’ve embraced as your own, because being there you feel more authentic, more of the self, more integrated, where you’ll always be a foreigner because of your accent, your manners, your vision of the world, your lack of references, your condition from being born and raised on the other side of the ocean, entitled to their collective unconscious and conscious, to your personal conscious and unconscious. And in the land where you were born, where you feel like a foreigner, where you search for references everyday with which you always thought you’d never get familiar, approaches that aren’t yours and habits that you’ve made your own. A foreigner in your homeland which you know is yours but where you no longer feel at home but like a visitor, where you no longer fear the danger of catching Lusitanian fever, and which, nevertheless, stopped making sense, despite being there or even close to being there, but is confined to your heart and not to the ego or to the persona. It’s a strange condition, seeing yourself as different in your homeland which is and will always be yours, knowing that you’re equal, the same, what was always a reference is strange to you, what always caused discomfort, or perhaps admiration, is now yours. It’s a strange condition, knowing yourself on both sides and not being on either one, knowing, just like that, where you’re landing, where you’ll land when your time runs out. And you’ll settle, you have settled, in a land that will never be your own, which you see, feel, savour, live as if it were your own and always has been, to which you don’t belong, from where you don’t have a passport, but which is yours, so, so yours… It’s a strange tranquillity that comes from Lord knows where, you might know why, you tell yourself all the time that everything’s all right, that the fears are groundless, that there isn’t a patriarchal consciousness tormenting you, because your condition of alterity is already known, seems attainable, even palpable to you, invaded by reasons that the heart still doesn’t know, because you don’t have such personal matters from which you have to free yourself, nor do you want them, but it’s there, more isolated everyday, more alone everyday, more conscious everyday that life knows what it’s doing, that you know everything, everything, even that which your consciousness cannot obtain, even that which insists it doesn’t want to see, want to delay, want to ignore. The tranquillity of knowing that the search is never an escape; you face what you have to face, embrace what you have to embrace, leave behind what you have to leave behind. The conditions were established long ago, the pattern which controls you life was chosen long ago, because you’re aware now that there’s no escape. Life really demonstrates that and you insist on insisting. You even know the motives for insistence, the times of every movement, of every hope, the times of every time. It’s a strange condition, knowing for what you can and can’t wait, what kind of situation is sustainable or not sustainable to you. And how that becomes the engine for all the actions you take and don’t take, for all the words said, and more importantly, those left unsaid. It’s a strange condition, knowing that it’s yours and no one else’s, that the strange condition doesn’t serve any purpose to you; knowing exactly what to do and when to do it. It’s a strange condition, not knowing any side of yourself, neither side, not allowing yourself to confine your identity to your own borders, escaping from the concepts that close in around you so that you can never get out, limiting the greatest power of all, that of freedom, of love, of being yourself, really knowing yourself as being a foreigner. In your home, and in the home that you chose as your own, in the country that you chose, that you’ve embraced with arms wide open. It’s a strange condition, recognising yourself at the most primary level in the land that you’ve embraced as your own, causing strangeness, alienating your very self, alienating your strangers, your most visceral reactions, with which you’ve most identified for so long. It’s a strange condition, alienating the reactions that come from your deepest collective unconscious with such ease, as if they’re trapped as your time runs out, but they’re released at the slightest sign of impatience, at the slightest stimulus, at the most primary, visceral stimulus, those reactions that only belong to the space where you find yourself, where your collective unconscious was found, which only make sense there, only conform to this, because they don’t have to escape from their natural habitat, it’s a question of survival and you know it. It’s a strange condition which allows you to live in accordance with the local patterns of survival which are so different from one another. It’s a strange condition in which you rescue all of the tools from the psyche that allow you to survive, wherever and whoever you are. It’s a strange condition, the strangeness of your own strangeness, the tranquillity before such strangeness, which might not be that strange. It’s a strange condition, recognising your nearest and dearest by their actions and not in what comes out of their mouths, in what the world tells them that they have to do, in what they demonstrate, irrespective of the obligations that they believe the world is imposing on them. It’s a strange condition, respecting others’ times but not using them as an excuse. It’s a strange condition in which abandonment and rejection are no longer conditions, they are pains, they don’t threaten you, they don’t stay hidden in deep, dark, unreachable niches, because they’re no longer part of your most primitive, shapeless, wild, unknown, loosened fears to do what they want with you and your life. It’s a strange condition in which words have new forms, situations have new names, circumstances have conditions, questions stop being emotional and become rational and vice versa. It’s a strange condition, consciously knowing what you might have always unconsciously known. It’s a strange condition, the matters properly incorporated, the absence of fear, the timed moments. It’s a strange condition, free relationships, life unleashed from the bureaucracies of time and space. It’s a strange condition, knowing yourself to be vulnerable and, as such, stronger. It’s a strange condition, full of once stifled desires for the consciousness of the world, regardless of what mine may be. It’s a strange condition, knowing that it lurks around every corner, waiting for a gap through which I can enter and in which I can stay forever. It’s a strange condition, knowing that that’s stopped being possible. It’s a strange sensation, being a foreigner in your own skin, in your identity. It’s a strange tranquillity, knowing that your identity is your psyche, knowing who you are by recognising your shadow, your persona, your ego, knowing that your identity is your self, and not the information written on your passport. That’s the identity which befits the world, both of us know that what befits the world is far from what suits us. We’ve both learned that we adapt but we will never sell ourselves. It’s a strange condition, insisting on writing on pieces of parchment, rolling them up, pushing them into colourless glass bottles, without any label residue, closed with a cork from the Alentejo cork trees, casting them into the sea, the same sea as the first time. It’s a strange sensation… In: Message in a Bottle, chapter 17, by Christa Parish.