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 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 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.

Ticket To Ride, Chapter 16: Narcissistic hedonists existing on half-tuned terms…

300px-Surtidor_de_trenes_Sixteen 

Since I’d purchased my train ticket upon arrival in Lagos, and had loosely planned to make it to Algeciras in three days to make the crossing to Morocco, I passed on the ditch-digging job. Instead I took a train to the Spanish-Portuguese border where I crossed the Guadiana by ferry. Back in Spanish-land, Andalusia, entering through the village of Ayamonte, I was able to use my marginal college Spanish. I made my way to the nearest Tabac to pick up a pack of Fortunas, then headed into town seeking cheap accommodations; a place to read, and sleep.

“No tengo mucho dinero,” I’d say.

“Lo siento amigo.”

“Amigo. Shit.”

Over the red-tiled, dusty, cut-and-dried town, the sun set low in the sky casting its solemn, pinkish hue on the suddenly omnipresent world. For a moment the villager’s faces were transformed from a Gothic, gargoyle-grey to something saintly and almost sweet, like a mosaic in the St. Apollinare. But all seemed transformed into con-men when it came to bargaining for a bed.

The topic of money snuffed out this last flicker of godliness and I decided to move on, to hitch-hike to the next town, and a possible train headed south. Tired, hollow, dull-ache, sunset, where’s home from here?, mind.

I stalked heavy-footed on my tarmac path, a narrow, two-laned, “Mexican-One”-like highway where, at the edge of town stood the broken down, empty remains of an abandoned railway station which might once have served to carry me south. I have “all the time in the world,” I thought, but do I want it?

Hitch-hiking in Andalusia is not advisable if a ride is what you’re after.

The sun sank and I waited. Cars passed. The world turned, quite a revolution.

Situated alongside a fallow field and facing west, the dying light offered a little pioneer glory to my asphalt predicament. I ate some bread and cheese, smoked a few more Fortunas, drank the rest of a two-day-old soda, and when twilight arrived, I crossed the road to the Mari-Ro hostel and bargained for a bed. The manager was an arrogant bastard but I was too tired to argue.

“Diez mil pesetas.”

Just give me a room, I thought… “esta bien,” handing him the money, “las llaves por favor… gracias,” he gave me the keys.

In bed I read the last few pages of Kundera’s, The Joke which Norbert had given me, then fell into a disjointed sleep and dreams of lepers and whorehouse red. Sweet sleep that I long for.

Coined eyes

hands clam-cold

Morning… bright… clear… oppressive… waking… moaning… dream images… vertigo thoughts… mind.

In the morning I caught a bus in front of the hostel and headed into the fields and orchards of southern Spain and three days without sleep. The sky was grey and I’ve always had this thing about grey skies; sleepy, inward, ponderous. Cafe con leche at every stop was more than a feeble attempt to defy my mood and, mixed with a pack of cigarettes, kept me at least somewhat focused on something outside of my head.

In a cafe at the Huelva railway station I ate two ham sandwiches and went outside to read, but ended up writing a short poem.

blue fire lightning strikes desire in eyes

like red tide swells that fold & fall

then merge on the surface

feeding

flickering

wishing to be a flame

celta-sevilla-spainSevilla. Waiting hours between connections. San Jose Del Cabo, that’s what it looks like. But that was another time. Just a few years ago, but another time.

A few streets away from the station I came across two Brits playing broken riffs for Spanish coin. He played and she smiled with a tin can, collecting. They’d been in Sevilla for about three weeks and were making something like three thousand pesetas a day. They slept in a van parked on the edge of town. “Lovely here,” she said over and over. Nigel offered me a turn on the guitar, then helped me muddle through a few chords of “Sweet Jane.”

“Where’re you headed chief?” he asked with a broad Lancashire accent.

“Morocco… Marrakesh. I want to be in Algeciras in a couple of days to make the crossing.”

“Not exactly the right time for a yank to be in Morocco. With the Iranian thing and bloody Ramadan. It’s a bleedin’ sin to eat during the day. Allah humma laka sumna, wa ‘ala rizqika aftarna. A lot of ‘em get barmy on you… might better hold on to your fuckin’ head.”

“Fuck it, I just want to see Marrakesh.”

“The shops are opening up, would you like an ice cream.” said Nigel’s girlfriend.

“Sure,” I said.

Over ice cream they talked about strawberry season and how they’d done pretty well as pickers. I toyed for a moment with a Kerouacean notion of joining them, but didn’t.

After the ice cream I wished them luck and headed toward the train station. Some young Spanish girls were returning to their school which stood adjacent to the platform. As they passed, some smiled, their eyes like twilight. The ancestors of Mexican girls, embroidered in the Americas with Indian motifs. I smiled back innocently.

Their latin lovers followed the line of their gaze, then looked at me with contempt.

I was hungry again so I set off across the main square in search of food. After walking the perimeter of the square I ended up in a sort of cafe across the street from the station. I ate a sort of hamburger and drank a coke and was stared at by a few very old people. It was quiet and I suspected it would be until I left. They knew and I knew that I wouldn’t be there long and soon they would be free to talk amongst themselves and perhaps guess where the fair-haired young man had come from and where he might be going and where they themselves had been but never where they might go again.

As the sun set over the Guadalquivir, a group of excited students got on the train and sat in the seats around me. Some of the girls smiled and giggled as they discovered the foreigner in their midst. The boys smiled and giggled at them. They were traveling light.

“Adonde van?” I asked.

“On a day trip to Sevilla para Museo Principal de Bellas Artes,” said one of the boys, trying out his English. “Quiere ir?”  (Have you been)

“El año pasado pero… ahora voy a Morocco. Estoy en Sevilla solamente por el tren.”

“El museo es ‘brilliant,’” said one girl, “brilliant and lovely.” I found it charming how she fell into a sort of English accent when she used English words but found her overzealousness suffocating. The door had opened to continue talking to her but I went cold.

I managed to smile as I turned away and settled back in to my seat. In turning I noticed two very nice looking girls to my right. They smiled and I turned away. When I turned back toward them they were speaking between themselves, one looking into a compact and fixing her make-up. The door closed. Women felt forbidden to me. If not women, then what? Bread. Dry bread. I looked again, they were dragons. The world of the train car went away and again I was back in Anaya’s bathroom, tripping. Only this time, I was seeing Great Uncle Norman, Normy the fucking molester, and the fear that must have been on my father’s face when he was a boy and then my father yelling at me, calling me a pansy and a pussy.

The train began to move. I grabbed my notebook and wrote:

Narcissistic hedonists existing on half-tuned terms,

like germs in a culture,

like the vultures we’ve become.

We look into a mirror, not into the past, the present, nor the future, but at ourselves, fed by vanity, vanity and self-absorption.

I got up from my seat and went to the back of the car, I was on auto pilot now and not thinking just moving and only slightly interested in where I was being led. I’d made it to the back door, opened it and heard the noise of the wheels against the rails, and the wind, the wind in my face between train cars in the open, but I wanted it to be done, not all of me but a big part was ready to move on, to be done. The train was at full speed now.

Behind me the train conductor said in Spanish:

“If you jump you will most certainly die.”

Precise statement, pithy, decide.

I had to either jump or go home. At that point I wasn’t sure where home was.

I heard the words of U2’s “Into the Heart” coming from a cassette player inside the train:

“Into the heart of a child, I can stay a while, but I can’t go back.”

Ticket To Ride, Chapter 14: People are fucking beautiful…

Night TrainFourteen

My mind was a mess as the previous week had ended with a piece of unwanted wisdom. After seven half-assed hours of sleep from midnight in Paris to the Spanish border, a German, “Hein” (name given), went off to find the nearest market to get some bread and cheese. He said a bit of wine would be good for the cold that I hadn’t been able to shake since Paris. Having reluctantly allowed him to share the train compartment (second-class, no bed), I had decided that my earlier suspicion (train robber) of him was most likely unfounded since I had slept most of the distance thus far traveled and nothing material was missing. He’s all right, I thought, having also played a few hands of Gin with him.

Hein returned with a crumpled paper bag which resembled his slept-in clothing. Our nine o’clock for Madrid departed.

In his brief search he’d located two bottles of cabernet and a package of vanilla wafers. Before reboarding the train, he pulled a syringe from his coat pocket and emptied it through the cork and into the wine. I had resigned myself to strict frugality until my arrival in Madrid, so I was happy to oblige his offer to share this paupers’ feast. I rubbed my red eyes as he passed the bottle.

“Here’s to gin rummy,” I said.

“Gin rummy,” he replied smiling.

We drank from tin camping cups and drifted through the Pyrenees and the Basque countryside.

My eyelids were too-soon heavy and I declined another hand of Gin.

Stretching out on the scuffed and stained, avocado-green bench, with my arm through the straps of my rucksack and my money belt beneath me, seeing snow-capped mountains passing slowly by, and thinking free thoughts, I fell, into a well, of sedated sleep.

… in nightmarish nocturnality

a thieving Arab rushed in dreams

seeking…

I awoke again, my eyes burning as the sun threw its last spark. The railbrakes screeched as the train slowed into Chamartain station. All thumbs, I attempted to organize my pack and my self. Untied laces… unzipped zippers… a missing money belt… camera… passport… travelers checks… all gone… vanished with the fork-tongued German. I tore the crucifix from my neck… Christian, existential, Christianexistential, bodhisattva?

Under the hazy luminescence of the overhead lamp sat an unopened bottle of cabernet. I picked it up and left the train in search of further sleep, still feeling the effects of an unknown drug; sweet, hushed, narcotic night.

I dragged my gear to a nearby hostel and slept another eight hours (a total of twenty-four in the past thirty-six). I felt cold and hollowed out and hungry and longed for the warmth of a woman.

“People are fucking beautiful,” I said under my breath.

And before passing out again, I wrote:

 

… and I’m trying to get through

with bad omens, circumstances,

dreams that won’t permit

me to sleep in peace

to travel unhindered

through changing accents

tastes and smells

the recurring dream that tells

me to return

before I’m rendered eternal time,

in limbo,

without grasp,

gasping…

Sketches of Spain in Spring – Sevilla

2004_barrio_santa_cruz_sevillaSketches of Spain, Spring by Philip Scott Wikel

I.

I caught a bus in front of the pensione and headed into the fields and orchards of southern Spain and three days without sleep. The sky was grey and I’ve always had this thing about grey skies, sleepy, inward, ponderous. Cafe con leche at every stop was more than a feeble attempt to defy my mood and, mixed with a pack of cigarettes, kept me at least somewhat focused.

In a cafe at the Huelva railway station I ate two ham sandwiches and went outside to read, but ended up writing a short poem.

blue fire lightning strikes desire in eyes

like red tide swells that fold & fall

then merge on the surface

feeding

flickering

wishing to be a flame

II.

Sevilla. Waiting hours between connections. San Jose Del Cabo, that’s what it looks like. But that was another time. Just a few years ago, but another time.

A few streets away from the station I came across two Brits playing broken riffs for Spanish coin. He played and she smiled with a tin can, collecting. They’d been in Sevilla for about three weeks and were making something like three thousand pesetas a day. They slept in a van parked on the edge of town. “Lovely here,” she said over and over. Nigel offered me a turn on the guitar, then helped me muddle through a few chords of “Sweet Jane.”

“Where’re you headed chief?” he asked with a broad Lancashire accent.

“Morocco… Marrakesh. I’m supposed to meet a friend in Algeciras in a couple of days to make the crossing.”

“Not exactly the right time for a yank to be in Morocco. With the bombing and bloody ramadan you might better hold on to your fuckin’ head.”

“Handley’s idea…”

“Handley?”

“Yeah the guy I’m meeting in Algeciras. Talked me out of Bordeaux and Biarritz and…”

“The shops are opening up, would you like an ice cream.” said Nigel’s girlfriend.

“Sure.”

Over ice cream they talked about strawberry season and how they’d done pretty well as pickers.

 

III.

Some young Spanish girls were returning to their school which stood adjacent to the  train station. As they passed, some smiled, their eyes like twilight. The ancestors of Mexican girls embroidered in the Americas with indian motifs. I smiled back, innocently.

Their latin lovers followed the line of their gaze, then looked at me with contempt.

I was hungry again so I set off across the main square in search of food. After walking the perimeter of the square I ended up in a sort of cafe across the street from the station. I ate a sort of hamburger and drank a coke and was stared at by a few very old people. They knew and I knew that I wouldn’t be there long and soon they would be free to talk amongst themselves and perhaps guess where the fair-haired man had come from and where he might be going and where they themselves had been but never where they might go again.

 

IV.

As the sun set over the Guadalquivir, a group of excited students got on the train and sat in the seats around me. Some of the girls smiled and giggled as they discovered the foreigner in their midst. The boys smiled and giggled at them. They were traveling light and I asked them where they were going and where they had been. One of the serious boys informed me that they were on a day trip to Sevilla to see the Museo Principal de Bellas Artes. Had I been there? Yes, but not this trip. I was in Sevilla only to make a train connection.

“El museo was ‘brilliant,'” said one girl.

I smiled and turned away and settled back and noticed two very nice looking women to my right. I smiled and they turned away to speak between themselves, as is usually the case, once you’ve shown some interest.