No ends, just grays and half-lives

Photo by Romana Basilaris

By Romana Basilaris

‘I don’t want this to change.’

Something one of my closests friends told me while we were sitting cuddled up, in the backyard of an abandoned house somewhere in the mountains, looking at the stars, appreciating the nature surrounding us and the complete silence of the night. It’s a sentence I have heard so many times before in the passing months, and a sentence that has crossed my own mind a million times before.

Just moments before that, we were fleeing away from an angry house owner, hiding in his fruit gardens that we so courageously infiltrated, praying he would not catch up with us.

Why am I telling you this story? Not because it was one of my most memorable (and for the people who know me, tranquille) nights in Menton, but because when I come to think of it, that night is a perfect metaphor of life in Menton. Let me explain.

Let’s see the garden as a representation of Menton: a small, mystical place, full of new discoveries in an otherwise pretty mundane world. There we were, barely graduated high schoolers, some flying, others driving to la perle de la France from all corners of the world. Not entirely sure what to expect, but sure we would conquer whatever would be thrown at us, and sure as hell we would make it the time of our lives. Boy, did we have the time of our lives.

That’s exactly what moments in Menton are, and have always been about: Enjoying the time with our friends to the fullest, telling that little voice in our heads whispering ‘it is all temporary’ to just, please, shut up for now.

Whether it is the endless nights hanging out at Sablettes and Bastion, way too drunk adventures at La Loca, singing Mamma Mia at the top of our lungs at Dolce Vita, playing beer pong (and at times, having lingerie parties) at Soundproof, annoying people with our chants during every bus and train ride, walking into at least 5 friends everywhere you go, Menton has become our home.

Let’s consider all the above moments as little discoveries in the garden. We strolled through the darkness of the night, in search of anything, or actually, in search of nothing at all; we were simply enjoying ourselves and each other’s company. That’s exactly what moments in Menton are, and have always been about: Enjoying the time with our friends to the fullest, telling that little voice in our heads whispering ‘it is all temporary’ to just, please, shut up for now.

But let’s not forget the times we almost tripped and fell while exploring our little garden: We all know that Menton was not just rainbows and sunshine. Each and every single one of us has grown as a person. All of us are not who we were, and will never again be, who we were when we first arrived here: mere teenagers, thrown into adult life. For most of us, far away from anything and everything we were ever used to. Obviously, that made us reflect and learn more about ourselves and what we want in life. Growth never just happens; it is caused by struggles, heartbreak, failure and stepping out of your comfort zone. All of that was worth it though. I strongly believe that all of us have become better than we used to be, and I cannot wait to see where life will take us…while you’re getting wherever you’re getting to, please always remember: although we fell, we always got back on our feet.

While we were looking at the swimming pool in the garden, a flashlight struck us. The owner of the villa had heard us and was now chasing us down; there was nothing left to do but to run. Not without looking at all the nature and the stars surrounding us though. Never once without appreciating the adventure we were in. And most importantly, although feeling slightly scared, never without feeling safe… because we were always with friends.

Let’s consider the house owner as time. While we were enjoying our nightly adventure, the thought of him noticing us walking around never once left my mind, just like I am sure all of us have never really been able to shake the thought of, inevitably, having to leave Menton. That never really ruined the fun though. On the contrary, the temporariness made us appreciate everything so much more. Still, we were hoping, praying, that time would not catch up with us. But inevitably, time does not wait for anyone, and though we were running, it caught up with us more quickly than we could have ever imagined.

Don’t worry though; as you might have understood from the introduction, we escaped the house owner, and decided to look at the stars for the rest of the night. Now I hear you thinking that the metaphor is not accurate anymore, because whereas one (luckily for us) can escape from a house owner, one cannot escape time. Well, what if I told you you are wrong and that, in a way, we can – and already have – escaped time?

And it is possible, then, for ever-changing things to still, in a sense, be eternal.

In order to explain that, let me get back to the stars. Watching the stars made me think about eternity. The universe is eternal, as are the stars (in the sense that part of a star will always be floating somewhere in the universe). Still though, even stars change over time. It is possible then, for things to change while, in a way, staying the same. And it is possible, then, for ever-changing things to still, in a sense, be eternal.

Let’s consider the stars the memories we’ve made and the connections we’ve built. After our time in the garden, in Menton, all of us will take a moment to look at them. To relive the memories and cherish the connections we’ve made. And although our lives and the relationships we have with people might change, the memories and connections are eternal. They cannot be removed, they cannot be changed and they cannot fade away. They’re there to stay forever, even if everything else changes; the memories and the impact we’ve had on one another will always live on.

I’d therefore like to end this article with one of my favorite quotes: ‘There are no ends, just grays and half-lives’ (1). A half-life stands for the time required for one half of the atoms of a given amount of radioactive substance to disintegrate. Anything with a half-life never really disappears, because there is always some amount of it left. Consider our time in Menton as having a half-life; it never really ends, because there will always be some part of it living on in all of us. The moments we’ve shared, the love we’ve felt, the friendships we’ve built, will always be part of us and will certainly guide us in our future life. You see, then, that it is not black and white, but gray: Our life here will not stay, nor will it end; it’s something in between.

So, after all, we have found a way to escape time. And although we all thought differently, our lives in Menton are far from temporary. Instead, Menton has given us a piece of eternity…

  1. Quote (Lyric) by Eden in forever//over

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