Thursday, September 21, 2006

alles wir gut

-which means, 'all will be good.'

The art of travel. A small book in the stuffy Frankfurt airport beckons me from the shelf. I don't have time for anything more than a short flip through it. Mobility, flexibility, newness, difference. To travel is to be human, with a body designed to walk 75 kilometres a day.

To travel is to trick the body, the mind, the senses. Rhythms dictated by light, breakfast offered in the new time zone, though it may be 2 am for the stomach. Time is made irrelevant and inconsequential. Time is reduced to waiting, and waiting to stillness. There are no hours, only the opening and closing of doors.

I am back in Germany with a very good friend. It's been five and a half years since I've set foot on European soil, but strangely, it feels familiar, warm, known. It's like returning to a scrapbook, train stubs and receipts jutting out from its pages, worn with years. This time it's less survival-oriented and more enhancing. There is less an attitude of acquisition and more one of perception. I have returned, it seems, not to a land once travelled but to a friendship unchanged by distance.

Sometimes it seems unbelievable that I'm here again. Sometimes it feels absolutely expected. The more I travel, the more I move, relocate, and explore, the more hospitable the world seems. Otherness diminishes, borders narrow, home is spread out. When I'm in another country there is a point at which nothing feels different. My breath, the weight of my body on the ground, is exactly as it would be anywhere else. In those moments of realization, in order to convince myself of the distance I've actually come, I must picture a map and the comparative distance those centimeters represent. How interesting that when travelling, we often think of our world pictorally rather than experientially.

As for the specifics: I'm finally naturalized to the time change. Finally convinced that time is just a construct, numbers relative to sleep and light. I've traversed Regensburg's many alleyways and cobblestone corridors, shied under the dwarfing vaults of her cathedral ceilings. Marvelled at her people's youthfulness, vitality, and fashion, over cups of steaming macchiato. Visited the world's oldest brewery at the kloster (monastery) on the curving Danube. Drank prosecco in the Bismarkplatz listening to children speak a langugage I cannot. Visited the hall of the gods with its busts of Kant, Goethe, Bach, and Schiller. Listened to covers of English pop songs over Guiness in an Irish pub. Caught up and reminisced about an experience on a ship in the Atlantic, seemingly long ago, but still burnt on our memories like the touch of hot iron.

And the sun is a lazy September coal, drying the sunflowers, and coaxing my skin to glow.


Mark said...

Wow, I wanted to be there before. The vividness of the picture painted by this post makes me want it more.

Anna said...

I miss you Jen.

Anonymous said...

Jen, you leave us wanting more, more words, more word pictures, more stories.

Marla said...

Jen, when you're a famous writer, can I be your archivist?

Steffi & Marlen said...

Hallo Hasenfriend,

thanks for this post, it is interesting to read you picture our city. It was good to have you here, we hope to see you soon again. Regensburg and bavarian beer miss you already, cheerio our friend!!