Every time I think of Paris, I experience the same feeling: as if I’ve been orphaned and am finally returning home. I know by now this feeling is a fantasy, a clever trick that my mind, my senses play with me. Paris is not my home town, although it feels as if it is. From the sounds of language to visions of buildings, urban landscapes, from sensory experiences to small cultural nothings. It feels as if I am from Paris, and yet, I am definitely not from there. And in this space of difference lies my fantasy, my fantasied identity. The Parisian space does not belong to me.
What about London? I feel like a Londoner, that much is true; however, this is more of a socio-political statement than an embodied feeling of belonging. It represents another facet of the ‘as if’ experience of living in the city. Nothing in London, the smell of the earth on a Spring morning or its colours, the urban or natural landscapes, nothing completely speaks to me. I am a Londoner, however the city does not belong to me. It’s as if I have left a fading footprint on its territory.
Because the third, the often silent or silenced city, my ‘elephant in the room’ – Zagreb – is where it feels I ‘naturally’ belong. My real sense of belonging anchored in my bones, the memories of my hometown. Yet, despite of its constantly changing realities, it has become a trace, a quintessential city of ghosts to me: a city that haunts me as it no longer exists. Every time I return to Zagreb in my thoughts, I am reliving my ‘out-of-placedness’. For a long time, my Zagreb memories resided mostly below the level of consciousness; they were retrievable, but not always readily accessible. When I return to Zagreb in my thoughts, I become my own reflection, a living ghost. Zagreb is a city that no longer belongs to me.
So, I move from Paris to London to Zagreb, and back to London and Paris, again. A triangular configuration of ‘time-space geographies’, a constantly moving, non-metrical space of (non-)belonging, a space of nowhere. No single memory, no single history, just living ghosts, elephants and bones.