Yes, I have come come a long way. But I have left streets and alleys that I still walk in my dreams. I lost faces and words and gestures that I can access in my memory so vividly. I can still taste the food and recognize the smells. The good and the bad, I tell you, I can still distinguish clearly. I remember the sun, the cold rainy days, and the wind in my face and the trails in the parks. The smell of eucalyptus in the cold mornings and the scent of the ever so sweet tiny white flowers in the woods as I went running in the summer evenings. I remember the sense of freedom and renewal after running in the woods. I remember how inelegant people were in the streets of my hometown. Swarms of sullen faces hurrying home, bumping into you aggressively and never apologizing, as if to rub in their affliction. As I said, I remember the good and the bad. How humanity used to appear in different and yet more obvious layers (to me), in words and looks and gestures recognizable. Recognition is comfort, it means you’re home.
It follows that leaving is leaving your comfort. And the discomfort of not easy re-cognition, of not being able to access the usual signposts, is a zone of conflict. It’s that territory of deep discomfort that is called Exile.