I wanted to feel new. I wasn't seeking a complete transformation, but a way to combine the me from before with what I'd learned. I didn't want to settle back into what was and allow the new pieces of me to become submerged.
I woke quickly and easily yesterday at 3:44 am, something I did not know at the time, thoughts whirling, and immediately wanting to walk in the fresh morning air. I brushed my teeth and placed a small lens on each eye. I splashed some water on my face and then looked at the clock. Oh I thought it seems a little more like middle of the night than first thing in the morning, although not technically, but still. I placed the lenses back in their case and crawled back into bed. Today I woke at 4:15.
It started in Liguria. I usually sleep through the night and become very unfriendly when my sleep is disrupted, but something changed while I was there.
I never checked the clock, but my waking was always in the shapeless black of night. Suspended it darkness I would contemplate farmers, nomads, and men who fish with light.
I'd ponder how to recount my journey. There were so many ways to begin, none of them right. To describe the stone walls and terraced hillsides, the grapevines, olive groves, and lemon trees, or the immaculate beauty of fresh anchovies with nothing more than lemon and olive oil, it all seemed to echo some sort of Disney narration.
It's not so much the physical aspects of a place that seep into who we are, although they do factor into the equation, at least in part. There are also the invisible traces of those who have walked, fished, farmed, wrote, and simply thought in the space. And for me, there are also the books I read while I am there. Claudia Emerson's Late Wife is one of the most beautiful books I've ever read. Hemingway's The Garden of Eden circled a love triangle I found difficult to tolerate, but the way his main character structured his days around his writing and respected his craft were unforgettable.
I was different there. I knew I couldn't take it all home with me, but I also knew I was not the same.
There is a wrinkled scrap of paper tucked into my small and most often used piece of luggage. Each time I travel I stumble upon this scrap of paper and smile as I read the words. I originally read them during a solo trip to Italy, about ten years ago. I jotted them down and placed them in my suitcase when I returned home.
“No matter how you travel, how ‘successful’ your tour, or how foreshortened, you always learn something and learn to change your thoughts.”
Jack Kerouac, Satori in Paris
I still love it.
I've found that those changes are near impossible to see as they occur. Patterns, threads, and shifts in a life are revealed later, while looking back. Taking steps to feel new or transformed in some way, trying to restructure my days to retrieve what I experienced, or attempting to analyze what has occurred is futile at this juncture, delineating space for change is not.