Monday, May 07, 2007

the song of the wanderer

When my wallet got stolen on El Rastro in Madrid (an obligatory part of the Madrid experience), I had just one bus ticket left to return to my one-and-only Madrid albergue. The albergue, where I had spent nights talking to a rich girl from Argentina and a poor girl from Mexico City, who had just flown over to find work in Madrid. The same albergue, where a Chech girl, reading Paulo Coelho's "eleven minutes", had taught me about the difference between travelling with someone and travelling by yourself (-either way, you will have friends and people to talk to; it's just that when you travel with someone, you already know who you'll be talking to).

One bus ticket, and the albergue-host was nice enough to give me just enough left-over stale breakfast bread to have dinner; just one bus ticket to return to town the next day and hang out in the museums that are free on Sunday; just one bus ticket to go to the airport that same day to take my flight.

I met someone who belongs somewhere, who seems to know where he is from; he asked me “where do you feel like you're at home?”; my most truthful answer was "in youth hostels." I went and talked to an older, wiser person for council; he told me: "by now, you have figured out that you will never really get lost but you love the feeling of getting lost and you keep trying."

Here's an eternal and unanswerable question for ya - in travelling, do we flee what we leave behind or do we seek to find what's next? Do we leave the country on the run for emotions we don't know how to answer, for emotions we'd rather ignore; or are we seeking something more, something deeper, another layer, somehow? Is departure an escape or a quest? Is it both? Am I hiding away in travel, because in any other place than the in-between I will be confronted with the simple fact that I have no idea where I belong? But then: are we all not travellers? Are we not the nomads of the present day?

All of this, I don't know; although I know that travelling forward seems easier than travelling backward in place. Another youth hostel seems more appealing than a simple trip to the city I spent my teenage years in. Too many memories, too many ghosts. Too much of what I am running from. It takes more to keep oneself together when travelling between worlds. It takes more to keep oneself together, and to loose oneself, too.

I also know this now, I have figured this out: a person can move back in place, but never in personality. One shouldn't be afraid to get lost, to get lost between worlds or lost in one world. Even in my return to these Netherworlds, I am growing forward.

As I move, I loose bits of myself, and I find back others, like shatters. I am travelling back and I finding back me, as a rebellious teenager, me, hanging out with the though kids although I seemed a goody-goody person in every other way. I am finding back a little self-conscious girl with big ideas and big dreams and lots of will power.

Many things don't travel with me, and I struggle to keep it together. But words have travelled with me; this song has travelled with me for eight years now, mysteriously resurfacing every once in a while, soothing the rough edges of the journey away.

A theme song in a midnight of seeking out a labyrinth.

Under the Rose
The song of the wanderer
- by Walter de la Mare

Nobody, nobody told
what nobody knows.
But I know where
the end of the Rainbow is
I know where grows
a tree called Tree of Life
I know where flows
the river of Oblivion
and where the lotus blooms
And I, - I tred the forest,
where in flames, pink and gold,
burning to death and rising forever
the Phoenix lives.

Nobody, nobody told me
what nobody, nobody knows.
Hide your face in a haze of light
that goes with silver shoes.
You are the stranger I know best,
who I love most.

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