This person I know moved back to Switzerland and now lives half of his time in his small hometown, while working in our city the other half. I thought it was strange, at first. But recently, I have been having the urge to go back to a familiar place too. I think about going back to my country. I don’t know what is left for me there, but I guess it’s the closest thing to home, despite my changed mannerisms, the 8 years outdated slang and anglo-influenced linguistic constructions.
Sometimes, when I am heading back to my apartment, I think about spending time with my mother, going to Pingo Doce, disappearing in the streets of the capital and feeling the sun on my skin. I imagine working as a programmer in a small unknown company for a small salary, dealing with data visualisation, python notebooks, well established libraries, and devoid of performance or well-posedness concerns. I imagine feeling content, like I can actually do something and know just enough. I imagine feeling unchallenged and not like a loser. I am ashamed to admit it, but I don’t find as revolting as I used to.
I firmly reject the idea of destiny – but it’s hard to believe all this was by chance.
There are crowds and crowds of people standing around as we try to make our way through the other side of the city. Züri Fäscht is a festival that occurs every 3 years. Around 10 pm fireworks rip through the skies to the beat of pop music and, like radiative colourful Xanax, everybody quiets down and observes these explosions. I heard someone say that it’s estimated that around 2 million people will have been in Zürich this weekend – that’s almost 7x the amount of people living in this city, usually.
We make our way through the static crowd because we have no interest in these fireworks though. In the most dense areas, as we push and shove these fleshy statues around us, I distract myself and think of percolation theory. It’s the study of diffusion of a medium through a pourous material – think of water passing through a sponge. These thoughts keep my mind occupied from the smell of weed, sweat and people.
We finally reach the destination we intended to reach, only to find our friends are long gone. Worth mentioning that double or triple number of phones trying to connect to the cellular networks inevitably lead to an overload and thus, the network is mostly down. Meanwhile, my friend got high and still wants to dance and I have been working non stop for two months, so I’ll take any social contact.
It’s 12:30 and it appears there is a second round of fireworks. I don’t understand the fascination people have with these events. Soon enough, the lights from the stands and carnival go out in anticipation of the upcoming show.
Everything quiets down briefly only to be interrupted by three explosions, and in a few seconds, the sky is full of colored lights, like a flaming huge golden dandelion.
I feel something.
As fireworks keep shooting up in the sky and blasting, colouring the sky and quickly vanishing, I imagine myself as one of these specks of light – quickly ebbing away, leaving only a small trace of smoke, which eventually diffuses. Is this a metaphor for human existence? The colours are so full, so beautiful, so violent that I feel tears forming in my eyes. Everything is dark and all eyes are carved in the sky, so I let them roll down. Life is so breathtakingly beautiful sometimes. I keep thinking I am over it and that I am ready to go – but then I catch a whiff of its perfume, a sight of its colour and I’m pulled back in – I’m again completely in love with life, trapped. Like a child that is overwhelmed with emotion, I am standing here, looking at this symphony of colours, teary eyed. Let these sparks be a memory of all those who existed, who have come and gone. There are so many of them and each individual one is just a bright tiny dot that eventually wanes off.
What if all my rebellion boils down to the fear of fading away, quietly, just like one of these lights?
work-in-progress fiction essays from ‘On math and the mundane.’