My gaze glimmers back to a moth that hasn’t moved for the past few hours, whiling into nothing yet everything at the same time. Funny how something so negligible has managed to capture my heed, howbeit the mum and lull of the winged creature seem far too precious to steamroll with my teeming thoughts. They linger and flutter in my head, these ones; mimicking the nimbleness of the moth in hope of sooner or later chancing upon a light.
I find myself on my parents’ balcony in the comfort of our family home in Switzerland. Far out a strange land, quiet and stickling; nonetheless, I can scarcely imagine a more beautiful place to have grown up in – why, then, do I no longer envisage this as my home anymore?
The moth seems just as happy diddling on the prickly white ceiling as I am on the wicker couch. Perhaps I can now veritably understand the meaning of being a fly on the wall. In German, they’re called Nachtfalter: an odd but accurate combination of two words that roughly translate to something that folds into the night. Almost like a lost soul fluttering away into the darkness in search of luminosity – isn’t that what we all are? Pops has forgotten to turn the jazz radio off, leaving it to waft through the French windows into the darkness where the cricket chirpses blend into the sound of colliding lake waves. Across the water you can make out the orange lights that line the shore and gradually disperse into the starry night sky like little fireflies. Vastness all around.
There’s something about the air here I can’t quite make out. Not because it’s summer, not because it’s that alpine air you don’t get elsewhere. The scent takes me back to my scout days when we used to camp in the fields. I’d often wake up in the middle of the night desperate for the loo – sometimes I’d shake a fellow mate awake, but more often than not I would slip into the darkness. Once the crisp air hit me, it was so pure that I’d forget I needed a wee and just sit there; listening to the crickets that never once ceased to purl, breathing in the same air I am now, trying to capture the scent I was familiar with. Sometimes it smelled like campfire, at others like dew, but mostly – at least that’s what I think now – it just smelled like comfort, like home.
The moth still remains motionless above me, I imagine it jitterbugging along to Red Garland’s calming keys that still ripple in from the lounge. Beside me, a candle flickers, bright enough to set the ambiance, but modest enough to leave the spotlight for the darkness encapsulating me. In a way, the flame is like the jazz chords: perfectly ambient bouncing around in the background, all the while holding its own intricate but bold beauty. It may slip out of sight, but it’s always there – like the crickets, the moth – accompanying me as I go back to whiling into the nothingness in front of me that still holds a certain somethingness. Perhaps this place does still hold an essence of home; but one I can’t quite place.