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For a running number of years now I have wanted to pack a backpack with a few essentials, design and buy a sailboat out of Hamburg, Germany, then hop on a freighter from some undisclosed point on America’s east coast and disappear, at least from anything that I am familiar with.
I imagined that I would end up somewhere along the southwestern coast of France. In my novel, Between Transitions, Jonah, the protagonist, started his journey in Paris then headed north by train to Brussels, Belgium then east to Cologne, Germany followed then by Leipzig, Berlin, and, finally, Hamburg. Where he too had commissioned a sailboat. Between Transitions ends with Jonah sailing up the Elbe towards the North Sea, leaving in an open-ended journey towards whoknowswhere, as Jonah sails away.
I, however, would like to visit the shores or Bordeaux and backpack inland to Lyon, and wander upwards to Geneva, Switzerland before making my way to Paris. Or to find myself in San Sebastian, Spain and then to walk south to Pamplona, and then west to Santiago de Compostela completing the walk--The Way—Camino de Santiago, before heading to Bordeaux and then east towards Lyon.
I was driving earlier this morning, listening to music, and singing along, I don’t remember to what exactly, and this feeling swept over me: how badly I wanted to get out of the car and just walk away. In that moment I could picture my sailboat, and I could see me sitting on the deck, with nothing but the sea surrounding me, and, in the distance, there was a faint hint of land, but still I could be mistaken, it could very well be nothing, only a mirage. I might be reading, or writing, or fishing perhaps, there is a glass of wine on the deck next to me, a small crimson puddle gathers around the edges of the circular base of the glass stem; or maybe I’m doing nothing at all, I’m just staring off into the distance, until I’m distracted by the warmth of the sun on my arms, and the salt in my hair, and the smell of seawater, of the sea completely consuming me, “you would think I would be used to it by now,” a thought likely to have crossed my mind: the smell; while also being consciously grateful that I’m not yet used to it, and here’s to hoping that I would never be.
I could go anywhere at all the world is as big or as small as I allow it. I could eat cheese with wine at a café in Barcelona, after running with the bulls, and smoke hookah with old wise Turkish men on a patio near the port of Istanbul, and swim in the pale blue ocean off the coast of Santorini, Greece, and walk through the castles and the hills of Croatia, jog from coast-to-coast on the tiny island of Zanzibar, and after docking in Mumbai, hike through India towards Nepal: Tibet: China. And, this would be the beginning, only.
What keeps me, I wonder. Here. Projects, different dreams, love? All of which are consuming day-in, and day-out, and yet all of which are still just slightly out of reach in their entirety. So, again, what keeps me; here.
I had let go of my fear of the unknown, and of the familiar long ago. I packed up my 99’ green Honda Civic and drove west down I-10: Pocatello, Idaho; Idaho Falls, Idaho; Salt Lake City, Utah; New York City, New York; Santa Fe, New Mexico. All of which came and went as easy to me as picturing myself sailing up the Elbe, towards the North Sea.
When I was younger I had an unquenchable desire to experience life. In the mornings, as my eyes slowly opened, I thought only about what I had already missed that day, and what I would not allow myself to continue to miss if I didn’t get out of bed. And so, I was up, and I was out, waiting to experience whatever opportunity I was able.
I know when that changed. When my lust for life left my body like a cold soul being lifted towards the heavens prematurely. It was during those same series of moments when everything else left me, and I was numb. I was a shell of body that contained only the hope of revival. It’s funny how the subtle manipulation of someone who claims to have loved you will slowly rip pieces away from you, it’s not so funny when you look back at a younger version of yourself remembering that you once had a lust for life, but to not remember what it felt like. It’s gratifying slowly developing it again. And then again the promise of sailing away is postponed because of dreams of opening a bookstore, the determination to see it through, and the limbo of a love that’s an unspoken, mutual, idea…only.
Do you ever think about that kind of stuff, and then you look out the window, and you see the sun reflecting off of the innumerous shades of green—my favorite color—and feeling only the passion, again, to experience…everything? Perhaps I would not have found that lust again without the direction of a dream, and the fulfillment of unrequited love: like pieces being put together, but differently, a puzzle that slightly resembles you. “You don’t know this new me, I put back my pieces differently.”
It is so easy to let the mistakes of your past dictate the direction of your future. In very small, unsexy ways, it builds up: more, and more, until it is all you can do just to get through the day, and then the next day, and the next, and the next.
I was driving earlier this morning, listening to music, and singing along, I don’t remember to what exactly, and this feeling swept over me: how badly I wanted to get out of the car and just walk away. In that moment I could picture my sailboat, and I could see me sitting on the deck, with nothing but the sea surrounding me, and, in the distance, there was the faint hint of land, but still I could be mistaken, it could very well be nothing, only a mirage. I might be listening to music, or dancing, or cooking perhaps, there is a glass of wine on the deck next to me, a small crimson puddle gathers around the edges of the circular base of the glass stem; or maybe I’m running along the beach, I’m not even sure what country I’m in, the silhouette of my boat anchored just off shore, the course, uncomfortable feeling on the pads of my feet from running in the sand drifts in and out of my thoughts, “the sea is cold this morning,” a thought likely to have crossed my mind: the ocean; while also being consciously grateful that I’m not yet used to it, and here’s to hoping that I never will be.
*"Something Beautiful in the Morning: What Our Dreams May Become" was something I wrote a few years ago, and I wanted it to be a part of this collection of writings.