This week a parachutist man was found dead in grassland near Teuge #NL. It turned out that he died 9 days before, after a failed para-jump. Failed? We do not know yet what happened exactly. Right now we know that he lived alone and no-one had missed him. No-one. Not at the paraclub. Not at home. Not at work. And if they did miss him, no-one went out to search! him.
Stoner must have been a man like this para!
Last weekend I finished reading John Williams' book 'Stoner' (1965) in a Dutch translation. I wanted to read this novel to "feel" what it's like to live a little remarkable life. Stoner failed in being a teacher. Stoner failed in love. He eventually dies in anonymity. A mediocre life of a mediocre teacher. Nothing fancy.
The book did disappoint me. It did not meet my expectations. Did I expect too much? What did I expect? For me it was too much a novel. It could have been someone's biography. But it isn't. It's an invented life.
I did not feel sorry for Stoner. No look of recognition. Nothing resonating in my heart. Did not think much of him. Just nothing.
The coming two weeks I'm on holiday. Natal. Ano Novo. Ice-skating with the kids. Little jobs in the house. B. gets her own room. Only one book to read on my to-read-list: Stedman's Surinam. Life in an Eighteenth-Century Slave Society. An Abridged, Modernized Edition of 'Narrative of a Five Years Expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam'.
In Norwegian they talk about 'Lengsel'. In German about 'Sehnsucht'. In Portuguese about 'Saudade'.
And in Dutch? In The Netherlands we don't have specific words for
longing for what is lost or disappeared behind the horizon: Saudade
longing for moving to places (or knowledge) where you are not right now: Lengsel
longing for an ideal world that surpasses everything that's unfinished or imperfect in one's life: Sehnsucht
In Dutch we stick to 'Bij de buren is het gras altijd groener'. Translated in English 'The grass in the neighbors garden is always greener'. In a way "we" Dutch are more down to Earth. More sober. We can long for what we lost, what we long for or what we dream of. At the same time realizing that it's never perfect. Even if it may seem so in the neighbors garden but that is - just take a better look: near-sight (myopia). At the same time realizing that you have to stick with what you have right now.
Mark that 'the neighbors garden' is a metaphor for 'everything in one's life'!
Do I have an answer to every question or problem? No, it's quite to opposite. All my answers are temporary. In a way a hypothesis. One cloud. One word. One song. One strange look. One touch. One kiss. One ... - it's always a pleasant surprise - and suddenly I just don't know what to do or answer next.
Clarice Lispector: "So long as I have questions to which there are no answers, I shall go on writing."
Sophie was 36. Felix 28. They fell in love. Both of them! She wants Felix but marries skipper Vilhelm Dreyer. And Felix? He was young and wanted to discover the planet. He wanted freedom. He became a journalist, travelling around the world. When he realized what happened she, his love-of-his-life, was married and mother of two kids.
For thirty years they wrote letters - in Norwegian - to each other. In 1941 the last letter was sent from Sophie Unger (1874-1962) to Felix Rutten (1882-1971). And more than 20 years later they died. She in Norway. He in Rome.
This weekend I read Adri Gorissen's book 'Een Noorse Liefde' (2012). Book in Dutch. Title in English 'A Norwegian Love'. I bought one book of 500 copies.
They met in Sittard (The Netherlands) in 1910. He taught her French. In return she taught him Norwegian. After a few months they met in Bergen (Norway). There they decided not to get engaged. She married someone else. And he started travelling. Writing letters and postcards to each other. They met five times: February/ March 1910 in The Netherlands; August 1910 in Norway; 1912 in Norway; 1923 in Brugge (Belgium); 1928 in Norway. Both realizing that they made the wrong decision in 1910 and didn't consume their love-of-their-life. Didn't!
In this book her 29 letters and postcards to him are translated. There are no letters left from Felix to Sophie. She was his 'middernachtzon in mijn eenzaam leven' (English 'midnight sun in my lonely life'). Forever linked. A sun that cannot set down. Kissing and words redundant.
A lovely book. Sad. Inspirational. Questions. Lots of questions - for him and her - that never will be answered. A love that is "lost" forever with the death of these two lovers. Melted like snow for the sun.
P.S. Felix was married between 1919-1929 to a Dutch woman. When his marriage came to an end he immediately planned a trip to Norway. Back to Sophie! In 1928 he wanted to meet Sophie for a second time but she asked him not to come. Her husband was jealous and Sophie wanted peace. They never met again - as far as we can tell from the sources we have.