In less than three days the language around me has morphed from the bizarrely familiar (relatively speaking), to familiar yet incomprehensible, to absolutely unknown. On to Italy when I was just reformatting back to the few French phrases I had etched into my mind (somewhere). I think the French dislike replies in Spanish even less than English. The transitions are tricky and I am continually fascinated at how quickly an imaginary line on the map triggers them. Or the train you jump on. I just completed a forty-minute walking tour of Nice and watched designer jackets, boots, and luggage invade the train at a quick stop in Monaco Monte-Carlo. The Italian train will carry me to Genoa, a spontaneous plan drawn from the events of the morning and the joyous autonomy of unchained expectations. I truly love flowing in undetermined circumstances with no attachment to outcomes. Those that relate to the freedom I feel right now, be vicarious. My sustainability rests gently above me crammed and cinched into my pack, my Skullcandy ear buds mimic the ambient rhythm of the rails, a dinner of fruit and French pastries rests heavily in digestion, and I will soon transfer another unknown into experience.
I have attempted to assemble some form of these European adventures into words. I find though, words are like pictures. In words you capture a snapshot of time. A tale told in words visualized with the mechanisms of a camera do no justice to the true essence of the moment. Of course, the natural reality is that it is impossible to relay such a thing. It is a solitary experience truly told in the wiser countenance upon return. Travels logged in details are mere memories that fade into the wind of time. In fact, the efforts of defining risks the memory’s own ability to account for what was meaningful. Do you remember the moment, or the picture taken in the moment?
When I left Granada and rolled into Almería I experienced emotions, thoughts, and feelings that would much more easily be lost in the eternities of time. My attempts to capture them represent a mere fraction. There’s a good chance my mind will recall the beautiful landscape on my train ride, the bustling swamp market surrounding the bullfighting ring, my wonderful discoveries on the wrong side of the tracks, and the glorious sunset from the heights of the Alcazaba. In Alícante I will remember looking into beautiful eyes. Engaging with real people and sharing stories and seeing possibilities. I will carry the reminder that music is a worldwide language. My ability to make music with a hollowed out piece of wood with Australian origins landed me in a late night circle of South Americans making music and sharing food. I bide my time for a rich experience, they bide theirs for a chance at citizenship and a better future. My fears surround catching my train on time, theirs on catching an unwanted flight. My hard work has allowed me the opportunity to unshackle the burdens of a job and fly into another world, just for the hell of it. Their hard work is underpaid and unappreciated (teachers bite our tongues) because they have no say. Mums the word when deportation’s involved... There is an essence that rises up out of the details of these words…
Barcelona was a brief opportunity to soak up the last of Spain. In a glorious afternoon, following a brittle night, I joined sun-worshippers from Port Olympic to Port Vell. I said “good-bye” where I first said “hello.” My stop in Toulon, France was just as brief and a potentially even more significant good-bye. I wrote a content ending to a relatively untold story with my beautiful friend Florence. An at times stormy connection, swirled in the mix of warm and cold waters, chilled out for a placid last evening together. Her friend Anne-Francoise, a non-metallic conductor of good energy, shared her time and space as a catalyst of positivity. Florence and I parted ways the next morning at the train station, both off in opposite directions. In our eyes we shared the affirmative “so that’s that.” The future turned present turned past. Again, we shared the before mentioned essence that I have shared with so many strangers on this trip, the essence of sharing. There are moments when I feel a rich buzz from this. As I sat down for dinner that first night back in Toulon with my friend Marco at his mother’s house it was there. There I was, part way around the world absorbed in the foreignness of it all in the home of people that hardly know who I am. Their trust not garnered from references or a long-standing relationship. It’s energy. It’s a desire to comfort, to learn, to say, “Look how different we are. Feel how we are the same.”
We have all developed our own levels of security with our ability to share. At our core we all know it is one of the greatest joys of living. Sometimes we may attach agendas, expectations, or desires. It may be second nature or it might require great efforts. On this trip I have landed in the presence of many people I before had no idea existed. That is what the true definition of travel is to me. Yes, I have seen the sights, tasted the food, and waded in the waters, but they seem mere excuses. I can now say, “I’ve been to Europe, how culured I am.” But, they are words I will be lucky to hold onto over a decade of time. The true satisfaction is knowing I have lived beyond fear and looked eye to eye. Here’s what I see, here’s where I am from, here’s who I AM. In the eye’s reflection I see the one world we live in. Here’s who WE ARE, a sentiment that will expand over lifetimes.