Tag Archives: europe

Oh Travel, Why Are You So Magical?

A carnival around the bend? Only one way to find out.

It’s the feeling of being between two places, a temporary state, what an ice cube feels right before it becomes liquid, where nothing I do is real and when I walk into a gas station and I know I’m on a different plane than those around me, moving in between them and above and below them but not with them, and the candy bars even taste different when I’m traveling. Tomorrow I’ll be gone, but Mr. Gorman will still be here, restocking the Snickers.

I get on a bus and go somewhere I didn’t intend to be, somewhere no one knows or expects me. I’m disrupting the time-space continuum. My body in this place wasn’t supposed to happen, but here I am. Maybe my past self, one time when I was going through the laundry room in Oklahoma, made a decision to go to Target that day and that made all the difference, so now here I am, in the present, and I’m in a city I’ve never heard of, just wandering the streets and thinking that life here is much more interesting than it actually is, feeling the world is very fragile and that gravity is the only thing holding me down.

The most exciting time of travel is on the train, when I’m not anywhere at all. I’m not in point A. I’m not in point B. I’m drinking a coffee and I am option C. This is like time that was carved out of the real world, sealed up and made into railroad cars, and in this moment I can do nothing besides travel. As the world flies by my window, maybe I’ll daydream about point B or reminisce over point A or read that book I’ve been lugging around with me. Maybe I’ll draw.

I can’t draw. I’m awful at it. The only things I can make are psychedelic doodles with rigid aesthetic rules that I don’t fully understand, so maybe I’ll do that for a while and it doesn’t matter because I don’t exist right now. My computer’s off. My phone doesn’t work in this country. My friends are on my left and my right and in front of me, so maybe the whole world is right here.

At this moment, here in the train, anything is possible. It is the moment of greatest potential. When we reach point B, we could meet a roving band of musicians, or a documentary film maker, or a group of college students who like to dress up in 80’s clothes and go out dancing on Monday nights. We might sit in a café and pay too much for coffee and remark on how fashion is or isn’t different here, and how fanny packs (bumbags) really should (or shouldn’t) come back. We might see an opera, if it’s free, or start up a conversation with a mustachioed gentleman.

Everything will happen and we’ll see fireworks and run along the canals and laugh in the sun and shade and generally agree that life has never been better.

From the train, Point B seems like paradise and ultimate freedom, which are the same.

The train makes this world possible. The in-between gives finite points meaning. Stopping makes traveling worthwhile, but the transience makes it magical.

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Wait Don’t Go! Bring Me Some Cheese!

Sure is flat out there

I saw a foreign man riding a bicycle in my neighborhood, and it inspired this post:

One summer day, a Dutch man put on his jean shorts and went for a bike ride. Out the wicker gate he flew, peddling as fast as he could, unimpeded by inclines and worries on this bright morning. He waved to his neighbors as he whizzed past: “Hallo Greta! Hallo Pieter!  Hallo Klaas!” Off he sped into the calm tilled farmland of the low country, a collage of yellow and varied greens underneath a familiar powder blue sky.

He slowed down once he made it past the last obvious vestiges of civilization and was left to silent contemplation of the surrounding cultivated greenery. The questions that had seemed so important to him in the city faded away as he was confronted with the unchanging cycle of the world around him, a rhythm that would precede and outlast him by millennia. Who was he on this green earth, a peach colored pinpoint in a landscape that stretched beyond the crusty surface of the world and into the stars? The wind tickled the tops of the green things all around, and the world answered his question very clearly in a language he could never understand.

His bike rolled along lazily, savoring the pavement. He came upon an intersection. He looked both ways and then proceeded to pass through it. At that very moment he was sucked into a vortex more powerful than both time and space, and was teleported to Zoharia Street in Mohandiseen, Cairo, along with his name brand sunglasses and jean shorts. 20 feet away and at the same time, I was returning with toilet paper from our local mini-mart and I saw this foreign apparition as he sailed along on his bike, oblivious to the world around him. No doubt he hadn’t time to recognize the sudden change of scenery or had so completely engrossed himself in contemplation of tree fluffiness that he was incapable of seeing the reality around him.

I distinctly remember he was not whistling. But still, he carried a whistle-y air about him, something that made everything else seem like an afterthought. Away he passed, out of sight and back to the re-entrance vortex where he could once again continue his summer thoughts. I thought I saw the air shimmer around him with the last preserved summer rays, but then the moment was gone, and I went home, trudged up the 5 flights stairs with my toilet paper, and began making dinner.

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