Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 15: Eyes alight with the ocean…

vw bus

Baja is a place (unedited)

by Livy Tinsley

Baja, deep baja. Mestizos, indios, cactus, joshua trees, river beds trickling, Catholic shrines.

Before Europeans there were three tribes, the Cochimi in the north down to Loreto, the Guaycura from Loreto to La Paz and the Pericu in the Los Cabos area. They were mostly fisherman who ate the fruit of the cactus and hunted game and gathered the root of the agave or mescal. It was noted by Hernan Cortes that there were “abundant pearls” in this land that, at that time, they believed it was an island. The Jesuits came in the 17th century and established seventeen missions and introduced Christianity. The effort to subdue the natives failed largely due to the harsh weather conditions. Hurricanes, torrential rains and overdressing made life for the Spanish uncomfortable. However, the local population was decimated by the introduction of European diseases. In 1823 a successful rebellion by the locals against the Spanish resulted in the creation of Mexico.

Native rock art is the only evidence of the existence of the indigenous people. Baja is a wild place that only six years ago was almost impossible to travel in the average passenger car. Mexican One, the transpeninsular highway is now paved, but solitude is still Baja’s greatest commodity.

Marchday

daymarch

the day marches,

we march behind, along with, and sometimes ahead

of the day.

Mexico will even things out.

Springmex,

green, even, cool this time of year,

purple soon,

larkspur,

but green now, moist,

hard to conjure the drymouthed days of

summer,

Sweet August,

dust-dry days and salt-dry skin,

cool cerveza to slake the thirst.

Marchthough,

marchthoughts,

the world’s rolled outa bed to lay in the sun,

to shed the Afghan winter.

cold, cool, warm, fog, hot then dry

dry,

sounds like I’m longing for summer,

summer,

south

Mexican One…

Not sure of the day, so far we’ve traveled 200 miles. 3 days into it and first day with waves. Guys’ve been crazy for surf. They’re glowing today. Eyes alight with the ocean. Strange journey. All this way to ride a wave like others they know at home. It’s the emptiness they say, the quiet, the being away and the elemental purity of a nearly untouched land.

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Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 14: What’s the angle?

travel-to-ireland8Fourteen

 

“Rame it’s Livy, I got your message. Summer’s nice in Ireland.”

“New assignment Liv.”

“New, new, new. Yes luv.”

“Mexico.”

“Mexico?”

“Baja California.”

“It’s nothing but a wasteland, bloody desert.”

“Surfers like it.”

“Surfers?”

“Yeah, surfers Liv. Editor’s on some kind of trip about surfers. Just got back from Waikiki.”

“What’s the angle?”

“He’s giving you carte blanche sweety. He trusts you.”

“Surfers.”

“Yeah, they’ll be a Volkswagen bus waiting for you at the San Diego airport. Four guys.”

“Do I get a gun?”

“It’s safe enough. They’ve all been. You leave Dublin in three days.”

“Right then.”

Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 13: A declaration might be made…

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 9.19.42 AMThirteen

Journal entry:

I get to thinking of that guy on the train and I can’t sleep. He makes me warm and alive, especially in certain places. But the eternal “but” that surfaces time and again but I don’t know this game but am playing it by thinking of him. Don’t know if I could ever make it work or might by translating the usual day, extrapolating that into a day with him. How it might add to a day. How he might be if I could know how to be beside him day to day; the desire, the knowing but also the pauses and feeling like I need to fill them in, sometimes. Feeling like I need to fill them in and sometimes feeling like filling it in. The answer to my own question lies in me and my trust of the me that knows to trust the knowing and perhaps the restless me can be sated with the pen and the doing of the things that the pen does, and the pages read and the paths they take would be the balm that soothes the burn, if there is to be one. Sometimes I’ve no doubt and others, like children running and sometimes screaming, and where the separation of powers in this begin and end, when perhaps the two become more and we, being busy, divide our days. Do we divide these days less thinly than before, or finer, or thicker. And if finer being the prospect do we decide, and on what basis, about the when’s and the who’s and the hows and the thems. The thems will always be, family, and trying, and sometimes tearing at the prospect of the finer. Who is his them, and what is mine, Mum. Calm and grace when it comes can soothe any of the us and the thems and the hows and the whys. A declaration might be made and rolled like a scroll, a pact so as not to stray, chain, or run aground.

Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 12: We thought that we had the answers, it was the questions we had wrong

trinity-6-390x285Twelve

Pictures in grey, Dorian Grey, just me, by the sea. And I felt like a star, felt the world could go far, if they listened to what I say…” – U2

 

Trinity College. Old stone, arches, the Book of Kells, for a pound you can read it. Everything has a price. Music is streaming in through the corridors. Raw, but heartfelt. One o’clock, I’m late, where’s Hope in all this, crowds. The courtyard is full of hippie-ish kids, some with Mohawks and looking very down, all an extension of the Beat. Kerouac, dead in 1969. Didn’t know what he’d created.

“We’re U2 and we’re calling this one, sumthin’ like ‘Whatever happened to Pete the Chop.’” shouted the lead singer.

Like a little coal-miner he is. Coal-miner with blue eyes and soul. Awkward bunch.

“Thank you, don’t mention it… I’m pleased to meet you…” he sang.

Indeed. There’s Hope.

“Heya lovey.” Livy shouted.

Hope turned to the sound of her voice, stepped away from her contingent of all the contingents.

“Hey Liv, you mind if I call you Liv?”

“Fine.”

“Glad you could make it. Aren’t they fuckin’ brilliant.”

“The little one’s like a sawed-off Morrison. Great sound.”

“You missed the first two but these are the best.”

“Come over with me and I’ll introduce ya to some of my friends. Might be a story here.”

“Not looking for stories at the moment. Just cruisin’’ really.”

“Just meet’em. They’re a good lot.”

“The singer keeps lookin’ at me.”

“Look back. Give’m the what for.”

Livy hung with Hope’s friends for awhile but with the volume of the music, they couldn’t speak much.

“Hope says you’re a writer.”

“Sort of.”

“With the fuckin’ New Yorker. I saw that ‘Livy on the Continent’ article. Right down on it girl, hardcore. Sort of, my ass.”

“Thanks love, but it’s really just the one so far.”

“I saw the other bits. Your core girl, core.”

Livy smiled and looked again to the stage. The singer smiled at her and said:

“This next one is for the auburn beauty at the back…

… 11’o’clock, tick tock… one two, three, four….

There was a barrage of guitar and drums. Livy could feel it coming up through her.

… it’s cold outside, it gets so hot in here. And the boys and girls collide to the music in my ears. I hear the children crying and I know it’s time to go…

… I hear the children crying, take meeee home…

Painted face, and I know we haven’t long… we thought that we had the answers, it was the questions we had wrong. I hear the children crying and I know it’s time to go… I hear the children… take me home. *

Livy’s knees went funny and she grabbed Hope by the arm and smiled.

“Seventies are about over.”

* from “11 o’clock tick tock” by U2, Island Records

Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 11: Sounds like “perfect world” stuff to me…

bb88729Eleven

“I read the news today, Oh boy”

– The Beatles

 

Dublin. Frenchman’s Lane. Sturdy, hardwood table conversation, firelight. Copper-covered city night, youth hostel, hostile youth, field stone fire with a bit of turf for grins. United Nations volunteer. She’s got pamphlets.

Journal entry:

Mum, I’m just an island away…

Here she comes.

“Do you know much about the United Nations Charter?”  said the United Nations volunteer, a pretty, hippy-ish young woman with brown hair.

“Not much, but I guess I’m about to,” replied Livy.

She reads from the United Nations Charter:

“to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and…”

“Sounds like perfect world stuff to me…” interjects Livy.

“Let me finish.” replied the volunteer.

“… to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and…”

“Is interesting but…”

“to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, and for these ends, to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and…”

“Could you pass me my beer?”

“Here, now listen.”

“to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and…”

“Sweetheart, it’s good but you are going on.”

“Just a bit more… to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples, have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims…”

“I’ve got writing to do, do you have a card or something?”

“Well no but, are you going to the concert at Trinity College tomorrow?”

“Hadn’t heard of it but maybe, who’s playing?”

“A couple of local bands, um, the Virgin Prunes, Horslips and someone called U2.”

“Someone called U2, is it a person?

“I think it’s a band, I’ve heard they’re brilliant, just released a song on radio.”

“Maybe I’ll check it out.”

“Do. We can talk more there.”

The volunteer got up to leave and Livy stopped her.

“Thanks for the recitation love, it’s inspiring stuff, just have to let it sink in, keep up the good work.”

“Thanks, I’m Hope by the way.”

“Livy, Livy Tinsley.”

“Sounds familiar.”

“Really.”

“Are you in the New Yorker?”

“Just short bits really.”

“I’m sure that’s where I saw your name. Pleasure.” she extended her hand.

“Will you be around in the morning?”

“Yeah, need to sleep in a bit. Volunteer work isn’t easy.”

“See ya in the morning. Got to write now.”

“In the morning then.”

“Night.”

“Night.”

Livy put her pencil to her mouth and stared into the fire. The light of the fire flashed in her eyes, orange and blue. United Nations, Mum.

Journal entry continued:

… just an island but it feels like a world. I’m sorry Dad’s gone. I hope you’re ok. It was symbiotic but not good. I’m sorry if you feel I’m going on. Dad had his good side but it wasn’t there much. Wished he had a boy I think. I was a grave disappointment to him but I loved him just the same. How are you Mum? I met someone in Portugal. Gave him a bit of the ice, sort of cold. But I’ve got to protect myself and I don’t want to take care of a child like you have. I realize this is a bit harsh. Be all right now Mum. Be alone in a good way. I can’t come to see you now but I will soon. Working for the New Yorker now, it’s a good gig, if I’d been a boy dad’ve been proud. There’s something coming soon. After that I’ll be able to see you. So take good care for now and when it comes I’ll be able to see you. Something good soon.

Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 10: Mediterranean’s not too far away, Mmm…

The Roofs of Alicante, by 1930, William Russell Flint (1880-1969)
The Roofs of Alicante, by 1930, William Russell Flint (1880-1969)

Ten

 

“Rame it’s me. I’m in Alicante. Did you get the Morocco story?”

“Is that 1631 words including the three lines from Crosby, Stills, and Nash?”

“Use the quote from Orwell. Rame, have you ever had green tea?”

“What do you want us to do with this Livy?”

“It’s your two thousand words.”

“Not quite and the boss thinks it’s crap. Where’s Marrakesh in here?”

“Have you ever had green tea Rame?”

“There’s no history of the place.”

“It’s what I write, the way I write. Someone’ll publish it. Didn’t want to stay in Morocco, got the creeps.”

“What about all this extra stuff at the beginning?”

“It’s the way it was. It’s the way they were, the people there, on my way. Read it again. Is my money on its way?”

“It’s on its way but I don’t know if they’ll be any more after this.”

“You’ll like the next one. Have you ever had green tea?”

“No, why?”

“It’s good tea, they drink it in Morocco. America’s all about Lipton isn’t it?”

“I don’t really drink tea.”

“Could be a whole new thing.”

“The next story?”

“No, the tea.”

“Whatever Livy. I’ll read it again.”

“It’s just different Rame.”

“The tea?”

“No, the story.”

“I’ll read it again. Maybe you’re right. Where’d you say you were?”

“Alicante. I’m staying in a Spanish prison tonight.”

“What happened?”

“Nothing silly, it’s a youth hostel.”

“Where’re you going next.”

“Not sure really. I was thinking about going to London.”

“Your mom.”

“It’s been a while.”

“You don’t sound too excited.”

“I’m not sure where next. Just read the story again and I’ll write another.”

“Call again in a week.”

“Rame, I met someone.”

“Is he cute?”

“Magical.”

“What else?”

“I’ve got to go now Rame. Talk to you soon.”

“What’s his name?”

“Don’t know. But I’ll see him again.”

“How’s that?”

“Gotta go Rame. Ta for now.”

“A week Livy… and Livy, (click) please try harder.”

Livy had hung up already and was walking toward the hostel. Nothing special here. Nice night though. Stars. Mediterranean’s not too far away. Mmmm.

Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 9: Sweeping cobwebs from the edges of my mind…

nt02Strait to Tangier
by Livy Tinsley
(unedited, 1631 words)

Sweeping cobwebs from the edges of my mind,
Had to get away to see what I could find.
Hope the days that lie ahead bring us back to where they’ve led.
– from “Marrakesh Express” by Crosby, Stills and Nash

Someone burst into song and soon most every one of them joined in, excepting for the two “goddesses.” It was lovely and I wished I knew the words but enjoyed the entertainment and their energy just the same. I was reading and trying to learn the song at the same time. Something about a shepherd boy and the girl he loved. Funny mix reading “Tourists in Paris” by Marguerite Duras and hearing this song of pastoral romance on a train in Spain.

By the time we reached the station in Bobadilla the boys were firing questions at me from every direction. Inquisitive Spanish. And as we walked into the Spring night they invited me for a beer and since my next train to Algeciras wasn’t leaving until early morning I had time to kill. Their enthusiasm picked me up and into a bar that should have been a couch or a bed instead, and sleep. But to them I was the great journalist from America. We walked several blocks through empty, desolate streets and streets like grand boulevards, some not unlike the third world streets I would soon see in Morocco. A town of contradictions, old butting up against new, haycart people next to slickers with neckties.

They decided against a bar and instead sat at the end of a three-way corner at the edge of town and two went for beers. The town ends there but for them its where most of the talk starts. They wanted to know what was new on American radio and how were the girls, why was I going to Morocco and where else had I been. One long-haired kid asked if he might find love in America and said he had no time for Spanish women. We stood on the corner and drank from big quart bottles and inhaled the cool black night, Bobadilla, non-descript town more like the American Midwest, nothing of great note here but the conversation was charming, staggering along with both sides butchering the others language.

It was getting late. I was hungry and they gave me what was left of their lunches from the train. They told me it was nice to meet me and I told them the same. None of us offered addresses and I thought this was very honest. Train station, Algeciras, Strait of Gibraltar, Mediterranean, Morocco, Tangier. I dozed and half dreamt of Tijuana and taxidermied donkeys.

I tried to sleep on my last train to the bottom of Spain but an expectant energy was coursing through me. It’d been a while since New York and the hippy chick in the subway who spoke of Marrakesh and visions of snake charmers, orange groves and medicine men. “Truly different,” she said, “Totally.” I just wanted to “totally” touch the “dark continent.”
The port station was empty and still had the morning chill. Cold, linoleum-tile chill and plastic seats. Stains above the seats from heads of hair that leaned against them and weren’t clean. Walls unpainted for years and the greasy heads of travelers. I went downstairs to the toilet and there an American girl shared her story of a drunken night with three Frenchmen. A hippy girl and everyone’s girlfriend. Stayed in some cheap hotel a few blocks away. One of the frogs sprung for the room but none slept. Her eyes were strung with something but she was smiling and happy, or maybe she was strung and happy because of what was making her eyes look black and glassy. She needed coffee and said that was all she needed. She followed me back up and the fog was burning away with the morning. We exchanged books from our mobile libraries. Both had too many books and wished the other would take some more but ended up even-ing it out through the exchange. She was headed north for Madrid. More parties in the endless party of my generation with nothing on their minds but parties. What started out as a decade of hope with dreams of freedom, and occasional recreation on hallucinogenics and alcohol, had become an endless party with no meaning. The war was over and the meaning of a whole generation had gone with it. When a spring is sprung and loses the object that kept it tense and gave it its edge, its just sprung.

The ferry was like the bottom of a stove. The broiler pan in the bottom, hot, stuffy, smelled like dead grease that smells like nothing like food but just refried grease. The sea was like brush-stroked copper. Homer’s “winedark sea” with Tangier in the distance.
On the dock at Tangier I was immediately mobbed by several robed men wishing to be my escort. I refused and they warned me of phony guides that would be waiting by the shore. They flashed cards that were meant to validate them as real but I would come to find that half the population carried these cards and were “guides” at one time or another. The moment I stepped onto the street a “student guide” confronted me with a story about struggling through school. I cordially declined and then had to end up ditching him half an hour later. At one point I ran from him and found a policeman who held him until I was a couple of blocks away. The policeman then let him go and he tried to catch me but I lost him the medina where I came face to face with Bahram. He seemed different and spoke like a priest, slow and consoling. I asked him how much and he said he wouldn’t take money but wanted only to “show me his city” and in return he would ask only that I spend five minutes in his uncle’s shop. “What sort of shop is it,” I asked.

“Beautiful things there,” he said, carpets, bags, jewelry. Nice I thought I would want a souvenir. He helped me stash my things in a “safe room.” with lockers and luggage everywhere. The proprietor, who was old when Bogart was here, mumbled “twenty-five” cents and then seemed to doze off.

In the Casbah, Bahram led me to fresh strawberries and oranges and began to tell me about the nomadic Bedouin people. I found their story charming and thought of how like a nomad I had become. Bahram went away to pray to Mecca.

Tangier is not now the same Tangier I’d come across in Kerouac. It’d become commodified, self-conscious. It knew what it needed to do make money from those who came. It no longer functioned as its own entity where a traveler might just sit and observe the rhythm of life. Someone told them the secret of its romance and each point of interest had been considered and now properly marketed. I could see around me other Europeans being led by other guides and it suddenly felt artificial, like the markets existed for tourists alone and that the locals probably go elsewhere. [insert Orwell?*] There were women selling blankets; the biggest, reddest strawberries I’d ever seen, heaven-sent vessels of redness, which Bahram washed for me in the fountain, vegetables fresh from the ground, and a peanut brittle-like bread dipped in honey that made my mouth gush with its sweetness.

There was henna, thyme and saffron and it smelled nice. The streets were cobblestoned and quite beautiful and the buildings surrounding the open market had wonderful intricate spires and sloping rooftops. But it was a museum and I was being led by a docent who’d said the things he said so many times the passion was gone if, in fact, there was ever any passion in it, a museum, Disney probably has something like this in Florida.
When I’d had enough strawberries I told Bahram I would no longer need his services.
“If you would just then follow me to my uncle’s store.”

The store was like Lawrence of Arabia’s wetdream, carpets of every color, handcrafted jewelry with every shade and variety of stone. I was particularly drawn to a piece that looked more Egyptian than anything else, and like an eye. And as my eye fell on it, Bahram’s uncle’s eye saw me see it and rushed to me for a quick sale.
“How much,” I asked.
“Do you want to know in dirham or dollars?”
“I only have dollars.” thinking this is something he says for the tourists.
“Yes, but some like to speak in dirham.”
Disney I thought. And seeing my eyes roll he said, “Three hundred dollars.”
“Too much,” I replied.
Bahram brought me some “green tea” with a cube of sugar.
“Two hundred seventy-five.”
“You don’t understand, I’m a tourist on a shoestring.”
“Two hundred fifty,” he said, getting upset.
“D’you have anything for about twenty.” I asked.
I sipped the tea and thought how exquisite the taste was. Something stirred in me, “do you drink this all the time?” I asked. I should bring some home.
“Nothing for twenty dollars and yes we drink it regularly.” Bahram replied impatiently and waved to another man across the room.
The door was closed and the windows shuttered.
“Are you closing up shop?”
“For just a few minutes. Now pick something out or… well… pick something out,” he said in my face, breathing his foul breath right at my nose.
I saw a bag with an interesting print.
“How much is that?”
“That is one hundred dollars.”
“But in Spain they’re like…”
“One hundred dollars sweet girl.”
I paid him, they opened the door, and Bahram threw me a box of tea as they all burst into laughter.

* In a tropical landscape one’s eye takes in everything except the human beings. It takes in the dried up soil, the prickly pear, the palm tree and the distant mountain, but it always misses the peasant hoeing at his patch. He is the same colour as the earth, and a great deal less interesting to look at.

It is only because of this that the starved countries of Asia and Africa are accepted as tourist reports. No one would think of running cheap trips to the Distressed Areas. But where the human beings have brown skins their poverty is simply not noticed. What does Morocco mean to a Frenchman? An orange grove or a job in Government service. Or to an Englishman? Camels, castles, palm trees, Foreign Legionnaires, brass trays, and bandits. One could probably live there for years without noticing that for nine-tenths of the people the reality of life is an endless, back-breaking struggle to wring a little food out of an eroded soil.
– from Marrakesh by George Orwell

Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 8: Never seen eyes so blue…

map-algarve

Cold late night so long ago

When I was not so strong you know

A pretty man came to me

Never seen eyes so blue.

– from “Magic Man” by Heart

 

Journal Entry

He looked over his shoulder at me, we both looked away. Started reading again. Trudy it was just like in Mills & Boone. I was reading Keats. Then he didn’t look. I felt overcome and not in a good way or a way that felt like it was something positive but I felt sort of magnetized.

“Your book’s a bit heavy for being on holiday.” I said.

He looked as if I’d just woken Rumplestilskin. A young-old man, beautiful but old, ish. And kind of like a child when woken, grumpy-faced but full of light.

“You all right?” I said.

“Hmmm?,” he said as if still waking up.

“Your book.”

“Heavy… yeah…  but it’s important.”

Important I thought, how academic of you to say. I was making fun in my head but at the same time enchanted by his sort of otherworldliness, his dirty-blonde hair and those blue eyes with all the universe in them, his strong face, Norwegian or some such.

“I read important books in winter,” I said.

Silence, long silence. The sound of the trains’ wheels punctuated it.

“I want to write.” he said finally.

“Like Joyce?” I said sort of harshly, I hate James Joyce, right up there with Kafka with writers to committ suicide by.  “He’s a dark sort. Stuck in his head. Catholic to the core. Sad really.”

“Well no, but he’s important if you want to write.”

“I write bits for the New Yorker. Just short bits really, ‘Talk of the Town’.” I said knowing this would impress him.

He was dumbstruck.

“Right on,” he said.

I just kept looking at him waiting for him to wake up. He seemed impressed but the light wasn’t completely on. The train brakes engaged and we started to slow down. Poor soul. He got up to grab his rucksack. I was still looking. Why hadn’t we talked two hours ago?

“I’m getting off here,” he said.

“I might go to Marrakesh.” I said. He didn’t hear this, he was still asleep and looking at his book as he got his bag, trying in vain to find where he’d left off. “Lagos is nice,” I continued, “I’m going to the south of Spain, Ibiza.”

His eyes glazed over like he was daydreaming, I could see him go away, maybe to Ibiza with me.

“Drive safe…,” he said.

I furrowed my brow and smiled at the same time. He’s a nutter I thought, a bit odd but sweet.

“…I mean… have a safe trip.” he finished.

“Nice chatting with you.” I said conjuring my softest, sexiest, kitten-like voice.

“Yeah, take care.”

I reached toward him and his hand brushed mine. His hand was soft but strong and bolts of warmth ran into me. My heart felt like it was beginning to germinate and my nipples felt like the first sprouts of spring. Something happened at that moment Trudy. As awkward as he was there was something there, happening.

He turned away and as he did I saw his cheeks burning and knew he was feeling something too. I smiled at this knowing but knew also I couldn’t stay here with him, wasn’t ready. I was still cool enough to stay still. Not ready to burn or not ready for a fire I knew I couldn’t tend. I’d see him again. I know I will.

He walked funny off the train, adorable. I saw myself holding him like a child. But that’s what I didn’t want. Mum did that for dad. He wasn’t there yet and neither was I. We’d meet again. I moved to the window to watch him go. The last of the sun shot straight into my eyes and he seemed almost like a mirage, the reflection of the sunset and his backlit figure was to me like a thing in dreams, not of this world. He had battles to fight, a mission to distant lands and I hoped I would be his grail. I prayed it, invoked it. I grabbed my little goddess figurine, squeezed it, invoking, voluptuous marpesian stone. Renewal, I am the mother but will not be a mother to him, invoking.

Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 7: Livy on the Continent

5

 

There can be no integration of love and ambition, deception and clarity, compassion and war. So long as occupation and relationship are kept apart, so long will there be endless conflict and misery. All reformation within the pattern of duality is retrogression; only beyond it, is there creative peace.

— Krishnamurti, 1945

Livy stepped toward the full-length mirror to get a look at her outfit. Travel she thought, and looked at her face, her blue eyes, her small nose and full lips, framed by an oval face and shag cut auburn hair. Hair that curled down to her neck and conjured corinthian columns, beauty. She was like a lovely caryatid holding up the temple of beauty. She shook her head like a go-go girl and smiled, then moved her eyes down to her full and firm breasts squeezed by her halter top that left exposed the olive skin of her bare midriff which slid into her child-bearing hips that rounded into sleek, fountain pen legs, painted in blue jean.

“I’m glad I have such pretty feet,” she said to her reflection, “they should want some pictures of me for my column… if I went blonde and tousled it a bit, I’d be a dead ringer for Stevie Nicks.”

She picked up the phone and dragged it out on the patio.

“We need to do a photo shoot Rame.”

“Photo shoot of whom?” Ramie replied.

“Of me of course, what do you think of ‘Livy on the Continent’ or ‘Livy goes Continental’ as the title for my column,” she asked.

“You’re getting into this now, aren’t you? Let me think about it.”

“What’s to think about Rame. We could even use my middle name, Zhena, to spice it up a bit.

“Zhena?”

“Yeah I’m Russian on my mum’s side, all gypsy mysticism. She never talked about it much, she was a cold sort, but I got a lot out of my granddad before he died.”

“Hmmm.”

“You see Rame, it’ll work. I’ve had a good response to my little bits in the magazine. More than some of the honchos. People like me, let’s do it up! You can start promoting it now and I’ll have your first piece in a few weeks.”

“How about Livy incontinent.” Ramie joked.

“C’mon lovey, I’m feeling good about this, humor me.”

“I don’t know if the man’s gonna go for this.”

“He’ll love it, deep down he loves me. He must. He’s given me a dream.”

Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 6: White Cliffs of Dover…

White Cliffs of Dover by Rich Fotia.
White Cliffs of Dover by Rich Fotia.

Journal Entry

Talked with Ramie. It’s all set. Europe. It’s all set. God, I’m bloody tired and excited. Spain, France, Amsterdam, maybe even Morocco. They said all they need is 2,000 words a week. Can do that standing on my head. But what if I can’t. Shit Livy just go. I’m looking at the ticket on the chair. Heathrow, then Dover and the crossing to Calais, Paris. I won’t go into London, I’ll just bypass it and head for the cliffs, White Cliffs of Dover. Sounds more romantic from here than it ever did when I was in England. I’m becoming like an American anglophile, in love with the romance of it as if I’m not a part of it, like the distance makes it somehow more attractive. Oh the White Cliffs of Dover and the Channel. Clean slates right Trudy. New stuff. Trudy how long’s it been now, a year and a half? I’ll do it for the both of us cuz I know it’s something you would’ve wanted too. And maybe someday Ceylon or Sri Lanka. World’s changed a bit Trudy. At least it’s changed in what I know of it. Ceylon, Sri Lanka used to seem like a place covered with nothing but sweet tea and people in cozy shackish homes who loved what they did and loved their families and loved the work they did. You know how we used to go on. It’s nicer to think of them that way even if our own country and the way things are has screwed up their lives. I’d like to think that those people are ok with what they have. Politics and all you know. But Spain, France and maybe Morocco, clean slates.

I’ve got to be the luckiest girl in the world, she thought.