I am not of this world. At least, that’s what people say. As if there were only one world.
I am standing in the big, empty dining room I never eat in, looking out the large window. It’s on the ground floor. You look onto the meadow behind the house, and the edge of the woods. Sometimes you see deer or foxes.
It is autumn, and as I stand here gazing out, I have the feeling I’m looking in a mirror. The colours are building to a crescendo; the autumn wind makes the trees sway, bending some branches and breaking others. It is a dramatic and beautiful day. Nature, too, seems to sense that something is coming to an end; it’s summoning all its strength for one last surge. Soon it will be lying motionless outside my window. The sunshine will give way to wet grey and then crisp white. The people who come to visit me—my assistant, my publisher, my agent (there isn’t really anyone else)—will complain about the damp and the cold. About having to scrape the windscreen with numb fingers before they could set off. About the fact that it’s still dark when they leave the house in the morning and dark again by the time they get home in the evening. These things mean nothing to me. In my world, it is exactly 23.2ºC, summer and winter. In my world, it is always day and never night. Here, there is no rain, no snow, no frozen fingers. In my world, there is only one season, and I haven’t yet found a name for it.
This villa is my world. The sitting room with its open fire is my Asia, the library my Europe, the kitchen my Africa. North America is in my study. My bedroom is South America, and Australia and Oceania are out on the terrace. A few steps away, but completely unreachable.
I haven’t left the house for eleven years.
You can read the reasons why in all the papers, although some of them do exaggerate. I am ill, yes. I can’t leave the house, true. But I am not forced to live in complete darkness, nor do I sleep in an oxygen tent. It is tolerable. Everything is organised. Time is a current, powerful and gentle, in which I can drift. Only Bukowski introduces confusion into the order every now and then, when he brings in dirt on his paws and rain on his coat after a romp in the meadows. I love running my hand through his shaggy coat and feeling its dampness on my skin. I love the grubby traces of the outside world that Bukowski leaves on the tiles and on the parquet. In my world, there is no mud, no trees and no meadows, no rabbits and no sunshine. The twittering of birds comes from a tape, the sun comes from the solarium in the basement. It’s not a wide world, my world, but it is safe. At least, that’s what I thought.