Mixed feelings

“The years, after all, have a kind of emptiness when we spend too many of them on a foreign shore. We defer the reality of life (…) until a future moment, when we shall again breathe our native air; but by and by there are no future moments; or, if we do return, we find that the native air has lost its invigorating quality. Thus, between the two countries, we have none at all, or only that little space of either in which we finally lay down our discontented bones. It is wise, therefore, to come back betimes, or never.”

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun (1860). Hawthorne spent several years as American Consul in Liverpool; he seems to have complained a lot about the weather. They are words that I think of often, sometimes agreeing with them, sometimes not. But the little space between the two countries allows for more than he thinks: there is plenty of room for discontent but just as much for its opposite. Room, in fact, for mixed feelings.

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