Ah the unavoidable psycho-physical malaise of bilocationâ€”the doubling of oneself that happens between travel and homecoming. Think of it as a variation on the mind/body problem.
Our body is spatially bound but our consciousness is adrift; e.g. somewhere near the Palazzo Vecchio, or gazing into the orchestra pit just before the overture begins. Our mind wanders in ways that our body cannot.
My hands have to be on a keyboard making sure I submit a story on time, but my imagination is unbounded by such constraints. While my body retains much of the sensory impressions of recent travelâ€”the rolling vibration of a train ride, the feeling of the French horns thundering the entry of the gods into Valhallaâ€”my thoughts and images are free to continue the sensory feast I’ve just seen, heard, tasted and felt.
I can still taste the sour cherry gelato I had at Corona’s at the corner of the Piazza de la Republica in Florence. I use “taste” in a quasi-metaphorical, quasi-magical sense. And because I can still taste it, I can still be there, feeling the afternoon sun, hearing the bells ringing six o’clock.
The sensation of being both here and there lingers as if the body had been imprinted with the entire movement, architecture, music, flavors, and visual feasts of the duration of being far away. All of it inhabits me. I bring it back when I return and try to keep it close. I recite my memories of each day of travel, everything I saw, the people I met, the wines I tasted, and as I recite these experiencesâ€”telling them to myself, and to othersâ€”I keep the illusion of “being there” intact. But soon all those pungent and vital impressions start to fade, much as footsteps in the sand gradually eroding by the force of the tides.
Soon the feeling of being in a single space, the place of “now” solidifies. It becomes firm.Â I am no longer far away, no longer in the midst of travel, I am back. I am here, in a single location. And the minute I feel that, I am corraled by a single here and present. And I ache for the freedom of travel. And I want to get back on a plane and expand myself into that other location. I want to double my self, my life, my days for as long, and as many as I can.
It is an ever-receding horizon. An illusion. Fata morgana.