The book in which the manuscript was found is called Policy-Making in the European Union and it used to be one of the main textbooks for my studies. It is difficult to say whether this piece of information can prove helpful in any way. On the one hand, the fact that the manuscript was found in this book shows clearly that it was given to me during my student years. On the other hand, I am dealing with a textbook what was used throughout all three years of my bachelor degree, which covers quite a long period of time. In fact, if I were to trace all the people I had met during those years, it is doubtful that I will ever manage to also trace the origins of the manuscript.
Going back to those years, it is not at all difficult to remember why I chose this specific field of study. Despite my interest in different languages, the prospect of a career in Brussels full of travelling and commuting to different cities fascinated me. Travelling was indeed one of the main reasons I followed this path. The question now is: why was I so fascinated by travelling in the first place?
It is difficult to say why we love travelling so much. I do believe that, at the thought of a future journey, few people are really concerned with the destination – it is the act of actual travelling that enthralls us. When I am thinking of the word “travel”, specific images spring to my mind: those of being in a plane, ship or train. Only to a much smaller extent do I think of the destination of my journey, despite the new-age trend that you should always visualise your goal. This is why I strongly believe that the means of transport play an equally important role as the journey itself: it is the means that somehow eliminate time limits and the difference that exists between past, present and future. When flying among the clouds, thousands of kilometres from the earth’s surface, time is diffused in present space and both become one and the same: a plane cabin, a narrow carriage with a stranger sitting next to you, a luxurious cruise cabin aligned almost next to the ocean waves. How many memories resurface at that time? How many plans for the future and expectations develop only to transform the present?
The journey’s duration is a romantic experience. Even if your destination is unknown, even if you’ve been there before or even when you’re dealing with just a homecoming, the process of the journey always has to do with a series of enchantments and transformations that take place within you and around you. The truth is, you rarely notice it at the time.
Going back then, quite a few years ago, I was in a similar state, somewhere between dreaming and reality, in a plane heading to England – London in specific. As is usually the case, up until the Channel, the sky was clear, transparent and shiny. However, while approaching the “island”, reaching over the southern part of England, I was welcomed by some sort of overcast darkness, grey matter all around, creating a dumping effect as if one were previously standing in a sunlit drawing room in a Victorian mansion when all of a sudden a heavy velvet curtain was drawn by hand that seemed familiar to you, which nonetheless, you failed to recognise. And then layers of dark clouds and underneath more layers, as if only this grey substance existed, until the aeroplane, lost in this smoky heaven, would emerge, all of a sudden, to clear air, and only then could you see, just a few metres away, those tiny semi-detached red brick houses, similar to the LEGO toys you used to play with when young, and only then could you also realise the depth of this grainy cloud that seemed to be devouring everything, finally leaving you to observe the earth so closely, a cloudy sky that resembled great flames of a nuclear destruction… Some time later, God knows when exactly, when the plane came out of this mess, I managed to see for the first time those tiny LEGO-houses, brownish red, assembled like toy soldiers, and it was only then that at last I was allowed to see all this greenery, endless fields of dark green beauty, so unfamiliar to us Mediterranean people.
It seemed to me -and I realised that immediately- that this would be the kind of scenery I’d see from now on during my stay in this country, the same scenery that made me one day write the following lines, while looking out of my dorm window:
In the fog
Where are the fields-fields to be seen?
Just over there two hunters know how to fire-fire and kill
A dead woman is dragged out of the well
All but drenched in blood and mud.
(England, 18th November 1997)