Sunday, May 29, 2011

Einmal ist Keinmal

My ex recently pointed out to me that I'd never read The Unbearable Lightness of Being, although of course I saw the film long ago. I picked it up at East of Eden the last time I was in Berlin. Perhaps the most famous quote is Kundera's interpretation of this German proverb, Einmal ist Keinmal. He wrote, “[w]hat happens but once, might as well not have happened at all. If we have only one life to live, we might as well not have lived at all.”

I suddenly realized that this perfectly describes my longing for the fourth dimension. In a couple of short months I'll mark the twentieth anniversary of my father's death. These have been two decades of relentless change, a tireless quest to cheat time. There are many ways to do so, of course, by changing countries, whole continents, languages or even entire identities.

Time travelers like myself mark our true ages only internally. To all outward appearances we are years younger. In the two decades I've spent doing this, I've only apparently aged one. It's exhausting, though, and at times I have the sense that I will soon come face-to-face with the washed-up, wrinkled old woman who I should, by all rights, be well on my way to becoming. For now, though, I'm ovulating, and the mirror reflects a glow of beauty from years past, that sometimes still takes me by surprise. The necrotic cynicism that is so apparent to me there inside my head, falls away for an instant and I think, hey, Katchita, sometimes you really do somehow manage to pull it off.

Berlin, dahling, I will be back in your arms in a few short days, and together we will be the forever young, the forever beautiful, of those who never stop reinventing ourselves.

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