Europe - Barbara

Europe
Michael Gow

Barbara

Always ‘us’, ‘all of you’, ‘we’, ‘them’. Never ‘I’, ‘me’, just ‘you alone’. Do you ever think of one individual person? Can you look at one human being and see only one human being, or do you have to see millions of others standing behind in a crowd that stretches to the horizon? Germans who are punctual, Frenchmen who all wear berets, Italians all waving their arms in the air, Americans chewing gum? What do all Australians do? How do you see them? I’ll tell you what they all do: they beat their heads against a wall crying ‘We don’t need you. We’re as good as you. We are happy with ourselves.’ That’s all anyone said while I was there. They would tell me over and over and over how independent you all were, how grown up you all have become, how confident, how open, mature, positive, repeating it all constantly like a chant. But it can’t be true. No one who is happy needs to repeat, ‘I am happy’ a thousand times a day to convince himself. All of you are deeply unhappy, as unhappy as everybody else. You are all paranoiacs. You see, I can play that game, I can put you at the front of a crowd and pretend you represent them all. I can go on and on too. I can say that your newness, your freshness, your freedom from tradition attracted my world-weary, neurotic decaying European sensibility. I can say you represent all the things that are missing from my life: romance, laughter, space, clear dazzling light. But I would be talking in clich├ęs. It would have no meaning…
I missed you so badly! I missed your jokes. I missed your body. I was happy for a week, but human happiness terrifies me. I wanted to stay with you but I couldn’t. I didn’t want to come home, but I had to. I wish I’d never met you. Being with you again makes me realise how unhappy I really am. I don’t want to see you again. And I don’t want you to go, ever.

 

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