Summer, at last, has arrived. In ecdysiastic frenzy the denizens of my city are reaching what’s left of the beach and commencing estivation. And whether or not a sunburn appeals to them, it will be time for desquamation: peeling and prying off the scales of winter sartorial defence, the scales of emotional self-protection, the scales of busy-ness with business, the scales on which we weigh our winter weight. The scales of home and job, too, for it is time for a vacation: to get up and go somewhere – anywhere but here.
Or, for some, it will be time for nusquamation: to go nowhere.
Where desquamation is from de plus squama ‘scale’ plus ation, nusquamation is from nusquam, from ne ‘not’ plus usquam ‘anywhere’, plus the same ation. When you go on vacation, you vacate your desk chair and your home bed. When you go on nusquamation – when you nusquamate – you may peel off the scales of the world, but you do it by going nowhere, or by being nowhere.
Perhaps you stay at home and engage in that manteau-porter’s holiday, a staycation, a term associated by many with “broke and working through the honey-do list.” Or perhaps you are just nowhere to be found. You are not at home, you are not at some fabulous expensive postcard-selling destination, you are not with the clogs of cars crawling up to “cottage country” to spawn city folks into substitute neighbourhoods, you are… at an un-filled-in blank, and not responding to messages. It could be the nearest Echo Beach, or a cool empty bar, or a sun-breathing coffee shop, or a bath of green leaves and a dirt trail, or a bath of bubbles and a dirty book. But there is no somewhere that someone could where you down.
Spem in alium nusquam habui. I have put my hope in another nowhere.
Oh, by the way, this is a new old word. If you’re looking for it, you will find it nowhere… but here. But take it with you when you go.