I once studied history, but I never really considered myself a proper historian until I arrived in the Nomadic Village, until I spent two weeks collecting stories and creating new ones. A lot of the time in my shop I spent talking with customers about their memories, about ways to remember and ways to forget. I served madeleines in memory of Proust's "A la recherche du temps perdu" and a 10 year old port. And the darkest chocolate I could get. Sweet and bitter.
Sometimes a customer would take a nap in the back of the shop to dream of old memories or we would work on forgetting instead of remembering. Sometimes we would just talk and memories would pop up. Sometimes I collected my own memories, created new ones with other nomads.
My shop consisted of a tree and a table. The tree I used to hang the clothes from, the cloths I received to embroider memories in. The table had a memory of its own. I had found it at the recycle center, some people were bringing it in to throw it away just as I was rummaging through the containers to find things I might need. It was square and had the perfect size, a low table with four drawers. Three drawers contained nothing but dust, the fourth one had a book inside. It was a story about Bedouin,
the nomads from the Middle Eastern desert. It was covered in candle wax.
I received a lot of orders. I embroidered peoples' memories into other peoples' pockets. But there was too much to do. I wasn't able to finish all the work. So the last night in the Nomadic Village I wrote a letter to my customers. Here it is:
Nomadic Village, 6-10-2013
Due to professional circumstances, I might not have been able to finish your order. You can either take your cloth item and return it to me at some other time or you can leave it here and I will send it back to you once I embroided the memory in the pocket or have arranged to visit you somewhere in Europe.
It is our last night in the Nomadic Village 2013. There is a full moon outside. It has been there for almost two weeks. I have been looking at it every day, sitting on top of my table, staring at a full moon in the middle of a field.
In the beginning I didn't know how it worked. I asked the mayor. "How do I turn on the moon?" Somebody laughed when I asked. But the mayor didn't. He just explained where the socket was and asked me to be careful after it had been raining.
I was planning to work all night tonight. The last night. There are still a lot of unfinished orders and I take my shop very seriously. I promised people a memory and promises are sacred. But around midnight I needed a small break. And in this town you go to the Sky Bar when you need a break. I knew it was open because there was music but when I arrived, the space had transformed into the Basement Lounge. It was busy. There was laughter. Laughter and love.
I sat inbetween the small crowd. We read the freshly printed newspaper "Looking for love". But only when Fee read one of the questions and all the answers relating to that question out loud while Thomas was recording her voice, I realised what was happening, what had happened. The question was: Is love something you use or waste or does it grow? She read the answers as if it was one answer and I realised the answer was in this situation itself, in these two weeks, in how it had brought us together, how it had transformed us. We had become one body. All our answers formed one communal answer. Together we knew what love was. We found it hard to find it on our own, but together we managed to find the answer. Maybe for the time being only, but that didn't matter. Time doesn't matter. Love does.
We drank more wine. We talked. We listened to the music. We squeezed the pigs. We wondered how Bolle had managed to get up in the Sky Bar through the small hatch. The usual subjects. But we were tired. And one after the other we left to go to sleep.
When I passed the map on the side of the sanitary building, for a moment I thought it was blank again. I thought somebody had erased all the routes we had travelled. And it made sense. Because we don't really care about where we come from. We care about where we are.
And when I walked back, Penka was walking just behind me. She gave me a good night hug. She said "If it is too cold in your place or if you feel uncomfortable, just come home, just knock on our door."
I was at home in her words. And I hope you will be in mine.
I know I promised you something. And I will keep my promise.
Next time when we meet, wear this cloth item or bring it with you. Or any other cloth item. I will embroider a memory inside. And for the time being I give you this memory. The memory of how I spent my last evening as a shop keeper in the Nomadic Village 2013.
Until we meet again and with all my love
Your memory caretaker