Budapest to Berlin Train: River metaphors seem appropriate right now. Crossed the Danube. Leaving Hungary. Was it from Priene where Heraclitus looked out on the Meander and asked if we can ever really cross the same river twice?
Last night I began reading Patrick Leigh Fermor’s “A Time For Gifts” to analyze his prose but the tale sucked me in immediately and I was lost, swept away in the reverie of an old man remembering his youth. “Give me whiskey, give me wine, when I recall that my youth was divine,” or so Tennyson wrote. If my youth was divine (and it was) then what is this?
I’ll cross my fiftieth border in a short time. Borders and rivers and time, melted into a whole. Did I ever imagine, that cool June day in 1993 when I first landed in London, on my first journey, that I’d be where I am today? I have finally, in the words of Magris, “left the enigmatical fabric of the universe to look after itself.” What a hard won lesson it has been.
Berlin to Hamburg: Sitting in the middle. Some day I will be old, like the couple sitting to my left and once I was young, like the happy youths to my right. Today I just am.
I’m looking out at the gorgeous rolling farmland on the North European plain and all I can think of is, “I miss the East.” That’s not living in the moment. But I miss the East. I miss the energy, the ‘never-knowing-what’s-going-to-happen-nextness.” The most important leg of the journey began in Istanbul a few nights ago. I realize now. It’s that tale that rarely gets told: the return. Am I ready? Perhaps not, but each journey has its own ineluctable iambic not to be denied.
Hamburg to Copenhagen Train: Three contrails streak across the Baltic sky. Seagulls twirl circles in the salty summer wind. Here I am sandwiched between yesterday and tomorrow; two hours ago and dinner this evening; the smoke I just had and the moment when I’ll put my pen down to look out the window and chose my next words. This glorious, eternal, transient now and I smile. I breath in the cool wind over water, smell the octane, sip water and melt.
Denmark looks like a giant IKEA store. Really, it’s fucking IKEA-Legoland here.
Notes from A Nyborg Garden: Sandbox, how many dreams? How much imagination? How much creativity was launched out of that old sand-box in Shavano Park? Staurt’s son is more lucky than he knows to have one.
The family ties here in Denmark are strong. Life centers around friends and family, but it’s not communal. It’s no where near as individualistic and lonely as the American life is, as well.
Stuart says, “we’ve become consumers instead of citizens.” He’s right. Modernity is ripping apart our common Enlightenment values.
I thought before I arrived that it would be strange seeing my best friend as a father. But he’s a natural. Kind. Patient. Firm. Loving. He’s found (and made) his peace with the world. His kids don’t annoy me like other people’s children do. I can’t help but to love them, mostly because they are him. Camilla and Stuart have settled into that deep happiness of young parents. A common purpose and lots of love will do that. He’s tending his garden, unaware I’m writing about him. I can’t help but to find his contentment and happiness infectious.
Half a world away and a lifetime ago, it seems, I made plans to be here for his daughter’s Christening. I’m the Godfather. I’m filled with a sense of well-being today, both looking forward to tomorrow and the day, which will soon come, when I turn my head firmly homeward. It’s almost been a year.
And I sit in his garden. Don would have been proud of me, I worked a full day with my hands. My hands scribble in my travel journal, finches chirp, a dove coos while bees gather pollen from the rasberry bush behind me. Can I spray paint this scene across my memories, this post-modern pastoral?
In the moments between moments, I wait, frustrated, impatient for the next look, the next place, the next destination. But I’ve come half a world to sit in this garden and I’m not interested in my next ride, my next stop, my next fix. This is life, the everlasting moment . . .