Tuesday, August 16, 2011
a prophet once said, "don't tell me what a man says, don't tell me what a man knows, tell me where he has traveled."
i had this strange feeling again for the first time in about two months. i was on the train from chicago to detroit, recently departed from my visit to a few of my oldest friends, and suddenly that overwhelming sensation of being alone and separated from the rest of the world took me over. when you dont speak for long periods of time the world becomes a place of sights and sounds. the view from the window of my train cabin shows endless nature cut off by jolting visions of speeding trains blasting by you in the opposite direction. youre alone with your thoughts. you have one and only one reaction to what travels you have just experienced: you smile and nod or you gaze endlessly to the land of regret. i'll not stare off into regret.
coming home is like being a wild animal returned to his own kind. suddenly youre important and your stories somewhat matter to people. youre an ambassador of worldly knowledge and as my father has told me youre responsible for the education to others about the cultures you have visited; to a traveler the world grows bigger but to those we visit it is our job to erase the borders of perception.
i love this job. i love old maps. i love food. i love people with jet-black hair and green eyes. i love the funny languages they speak and i also love the even funnier one i speak. we sit at the table that somewhat resembles a united nations meeting, each of us from different countries. our fathers and grandfathers may have killed each other but we drink together. its an amazing feeling to be seated at that feast.
yet it all seems so limitless.. until you find yourself gazing from the window of a train or nodding off in an empty airport terminal at 4am. youre alone again. your shadow begins to fade from the memories of your companions and you become a story. you hold in your hand the tiny scraps of paper they have written their email addresses on and your shirt smells like their cigarettes but you are gone and nobody knows where you are. i felt this when i left Ohrid. i felt this in albania, sicily the black sea and virtually every place i have wandered away from alone. there is, in fact, a great deal of learning one can endure upon being alone. you will always surprise yourself.
this chapter is about three weeks from drawing to a close and i will have completed four solid months of vigorous travel. i've been to twelve countries and three states. i've met some of the most interesting people this world has to offer and i've worn lines on the sides of my eyes as one wears notches on the side of their belt. i'll return to istanbul and begin a new chapter; one with art, music and lively nights. i'll take residence in a different part of the city, in fact a different continent and there i will bind the pages of what is to be the next chapter of my travels sometime next year.