How to Erase a Country
Updated: Jan 10
"How to Erase a Country"
I don’t want anyone to ever mention the word “Italy” to me ever again. I want to erase that country and everything that has to do with it from my mind.
I don’t want someone to bring up “The Light in the Piazza” when I’m not ready to employ it for sense memory as one of my acting techniques. I don’t want to hear foreigners speak it or see Italian restaurants while I’m on walks by the canal. Thank you, European Union, for this wonderfully splendid intermingling of different European nationalities, disallowing me to hide from it.
I don’t want anyone to play Taylor Swift’s Folklore in front of me, especially not the song “August.” No matter how much I’ve adored her throughout my life, I wish for her nostalgically depressing 8th studio album to be erased from my mind. Instead, I’m just going to listen to the shallow, non-emotionally comprising songs “We Are Never Getting Back Together” and “22,” those which I used to consider the most obnoxious.
I just deleted London Boy from my iCloud because of the overwhelming disappointment with which it’s forever associated. I wish I could just forget that innocent and hilarious, British-obsessed song.
I don’t want anyone to ever play “Bittersweet Symphony” too loudly in their headphones so that my ears can distinguish the song when we’re waiting in line at a coffee shop. I don’t want my father, in an attempt to display to the world his *incredible* performance skills, to fall upon “Yesterday” when we’re having a Beatles throwback during a long car trip.
I feel like I’m becoming one of those evil state party officials in Orwell’s 1984, dictating the elimination of words, songs, emotions, people, and places around me until there’s hardly anything left. With them, they aimed to restrict expression caused by the vast array of words in the English vocabulary. With me, it’s songs, countries, anything that could potentially remind me of him.
So, I continue on with my life with less and less songs at my disposal, less dreams of potential places to vacation, less ways to express myself. Instead of confronting the heartbreak of it all, I just don’t want to think about it. The songs I used to consider the most romantic soon become the very sounds I hate the most, the once most optimistic moods soon turn into utter disappointment. It’s not just sad songs in general that I need to erase; I’ve kept The Smiths’s “I Know It’s Over,” one of the saddest songs in existence, on my playlist for the last three years, never once having felt the need to destroy its memory. Rather, it’s songs that remind me of a specific person who then had to leave my life, for whatever reason.
My inability to find closure, even when something is so decidedly done, just makes me want to forget, to be like Professor Slughorn from the sixth Harry Potter movie. That image has always been stuck in my mind--the wand brought up to his ear as he physically pulls every memory of that object, of that person, of that event from his head, ridding himself of any guilt. He is able to go on so perfectly, so care-free, so desirably indifferent to the past.
We sentimentalists, Horace and I, don’t have the advantageous faculty that epitomizes so much of The Great Gatsby’s Daisy’s character: her ability to retreat back into her own “carelessness,” as Fitzgerald remarks. Instead, we’re forever stuck in the thick of the mess, the ones who have to clean it up, even if it’s not us who made the mistake in the first place. Forget the much sought-after letters from fancy wizarding schools like Hogwarts when you turn 11 or the love potions, I wish for that magical aspect of erasure, of complete ignorance, to exist in our own world the most.
Maybe it’s best to never expect anything from they that never show an inclination to do those things you want to do, or else you’re just left alone in your room listening to Taylor list off all of those places you never were taken to. Maybe it’s time to stop associating people with places, songs, and albums; I fear that I’m going to get to a point where there’s only one song I listen to on repeat, one song I try to never get bored of it. Memorize the lyrics and try to extract all different types of emotions I can from it—make it my solace, my pump-up music, and my one source for the feeling of nostalgia, but not a nostalgia too overwhelming I can’t take it—just a little bit of it, just to drive my productivity perhaps.
I feel like I’m going to get to a point where the only country I know of is the United States, where my travel plans don’t exceed past the East Coast.
But I shouldn’t do that. I shouldn’t delete any song or ban every country. Every place, every track, and every album should add to the patchwork of myself. The reminiscing of all that didn’t happen, of feelings lost, of sacred expectations tarnished by the unpredictable physical world.
If I’m being honest, I don’t want to erase Italy. I don’t want to banish it to the depths of my mind where my sensitive self wouldn’t ever dare to venture or broach. I want it back; I want to reclaim it.
One has to realize that efforts to disassociate--efforts to forget--only come about because people like me want so badly to have that very thing back, for something to have happened, because now, the place, the person, the song, or the feeling is unreachable.
It’s a last defense, a strategy employed in a phase of complete helplessness.
I don’t want to have to face Italy because then I am bombarded with sensory memories: his voice, his smile, his stare, his apparent distrust in my performative LA personality, how he remarked upon our similarity to my favorite musical without even my prompting it. His apparent nonchalance at asking me on a petite voyage to Berlin.
I don’t want to hear them speak Italian because it reminds me when he taught me some words. I don’t want to see another cute Italian boy because I want mine back. I don’t want to hear the word Italy because I want to be there, now, not trapped in my dull room in a dull era.
There is no Venice, Milan, Florence, nor Rome in the world I exist in. Because I can’t get Italy, it’s best I’m not taunted with it.