There was comfort in the shadows, an illusion of solidity under her feet. The trees hung back and let her contemplate the sensation of freedom. It was everything she wanted in that moment, black and white in clarity. But the air on her skin reminded her of touch. There was no doubt that she was connected on every level to the universe, but was that enough?
This moment of contemplation gives me everything I need for my next step. I am about to step into the unknown, again and again and again. Already I can feel the excitement fluttering inside like a deranged butterfly. If I concentrate on my breath, I am able to slow her flight but unable to allow her to settle gracefully on a flower of her choice. And this is necessary for the creature to dip into the nectar and continue the cycle of life. So I will practice. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.
I am passing through countries, discarding them like forgotten lovers. Now when I think about love, I have many more things to say. I think love is a vulnerability, a willingness to trust someone with a precious heart. To be so child-like and joyous that dancing and singing is a natural state. A heightened awareness of the beloved. A look, a tiny movement, a sigh, a tremor, a breath, a heartbeat, these are the signs that reveal the inner state. But love passes, in the same way that that cities fade into the distance as I travel across Europe. That is what you tell me. And so, I continue my journey.
‘Take your joy and spread it across the world, he wrote.
At least begin with a smile and hug yourself, she thought.’
It’s Sunday and I’m in the most beautiful city in the world.
Cigarette butts crushed into broken tiles.
At my feet is another death, in the street,
Broken buildings and hollow dreams.
I’m in her arms like a stillborn child.
Feeling nothing, it seems,
I’m on a bus. Denmark has faded into the distance and now I’m passing through wind generator infested fields on the way to Berlin. You know I care about climate change. I’ve even vowed not to get on a plane again so that could very bad news for anyone expecting me back soon. I guess there’s always sea travel but I can’t decide what worries me more… pirates or seasickness. I’ll start by doing laps of the sauna. (I know that doesn’t make sense but they’re great).
News trickles through to the remote corners of the world where I’ve been thigh deep in snow, that Australia has been experiencing a heatwave. When I was in Russia someone told me that Sydney had 48 degrees that day. He wasn’t Russian. In general, they’re not friendly with foreigners, unless one is in a sparse, white-tiled community bathhouse with a crowd of large, naked women. Trust me, it was fabulous. If only I had my sketchbook and charcoal.
Along with breathtaking architecture and cheap hostels that were once palaces, and some photo opportunities that were golden, the lack of smiles was a constant during my three weeks in post Soviet Russia.
When I arrived in Stockholm, laughter surprised me and the variety of different backgrounds were striking. What a relief to be amongst other humans who could laugh even when life isn’t perfect. It was still minus 5, the metro crowded and I was a foreigner. Of course I loved Russia but a huge thank you to the Swedes, Norwegians and Danish people for being you. I had a fabulous time and I’m sure I’ll go back for my friend’s wedding in August, assuming I manage the next round of paperwork in France.
I’m making my way back to France slowly. There’s a whole mini series in my dental tourism escapades that happen before I get there. Hello Budapest.. I don’t require being picked up at the airport or help with a discounted hotel but bus and hostel will be fine to get me to your lovely dental suites. 12 February. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, Berlin with its politics, art, contact improvisation and some lovely friends are less than an hour away. I’m excited! The bus is approaching Frankfurt and it’s time I started looking out the window.
Take care, smile and give hugs. It’s a wonderful gift.
PS I didn’t pose naked in the snow but I did take the photograph.