When the bookmarks change

eternally nostalgic

Kalomoira is pregnant with twins.

I imagine you want to know who Kalomoira is. She was the winner of Fame Story, a Greek talent show that came into being long after American Idol had solidified itself into the American pop culture conscience. In the ten years that have passed since then, I had thought about Kalomoira maybe twice.

And now I know she is pregnant with twins.

***

In making homes away from Greece, be it in Colombia or Egypt, I relied on a ritualistic consumption of the news. I was determined to assimilate and to do that, I had to know. So I read the local papers every morning until I had memorized the layout of the page and could rhythmically find my way to my favorite columnist or to the sports section. I had a favorite columnist. Everywhere, from Guatemala to Jerusalem.

There was no better home for my news-guzzling obsession than Jerusalem. My favorite radio station interrupted the music every hour for a brief news report. Without the kind of command over Hebrew that allows one to understand fast-paced news segments over the radio, the hourly report became a game. I hunted for words I recognized and matched them to the English news I had read about the region earlier that morning. "Hebrew Hebrew Syria Hebrew Kofi Annan Hebrew peace," the announcer said, and I knew she was talking about the diplomatic attempts to broker peace in Syria. Jerusalem radio may not have supplied me with news of which I was previously unaware, but it did teach me how to say peacekeeping and failure in Hebrew -- and it made me long for the kind of news and linguistic comprehension that would allow me to dream of peaceful co-existence and success.

***

I left Jerusalem for my homeland, Greece, 39 days ago and my news scouring habits have changed. Days can pass without my realizing there was a stabbing in my old neighborhood. 39 days ago, I knew about car accidents on highways I had yet to even drive through.  Even though the web broadcast of my favorite radio station is bookmarked in my browser, I cannot bring myself to click through, guided by the fear that "Hebrew Hebrew Jerusalem Hebrew Hebrew film festival" will propel me into an ocean of nostalgia.

Instead, I know that a local pop star I have not brought to the forefront of my mind in a decade is now pregnant with twins. Not only I have migrated, but also my bookmarks are shifting with me. I have the kind of wandering eardrums that long for Colombian salsa in Kosovo and Greek music in Guatemala. I have the kind of fickle tastebuds that long for arepas in Uganda and falafel in Mexico. All of me is punctuated by a serial infidelity to place; enamored as I may be with where my feet are currently meeting the ground, I will let the senses wander to the other places they once called home.

And yet, it is at bookmarks that I draw the line. The very newsy trivialities that help foster my sense of home when I am new to a place cause me painful wanderlust as soon as I have booked the departing flight. It is as though my brain can only handle one pregnant-with-twins pop star at the time: the local one. Any more than that, any more soccer team updates or festival schedules or a repaving of a street on which I once used to live, and my heartstrings are stretched till they tear.

There is indigestible irony to the realization that someone who has dedicated her professional life to international development and conflict management and aspires to understand notions that are far larger than herself needs to shrink her world to the news cycle of Here and Now, lest her feet want to carry her to all the Elsewheres she has loved.