I left London on Monday. My body is back in Northern California, but my mind, stubborn, remains in Europe. Right now, it’s probably vegging out in a warm, cozy pub in Islington, or strolling down a street in Covent Garden, where I stayed (thanks to my dear friend Nick and his lovely girlfriend Jenn).
As for my soul? My soul is lost as usual, in the wanderlusting, romantic sense. (As the ever-insightful and clever @dreamersawake said on Twitter, my soul is taking its sweet time to journey back across the Atlantic.) And I don’t keep my soul on a short leash, as it is happiest when I let it explore. Elusive, it is.
This morning, I mentioned online that I had several pieces of writing swirling in my head. Four, to be exact. Nick (my other friend Nick, so as not to confuse you) suggested a “Europe mash up,” and I first thought that was a horrendous idea—why on earth would I share the cobwebs, the half-formed ideas, the raw emotions, the jetlag materialized on paper? But I realized it may, at the very least, further the simmering of ideas.
I pack light, traveling with a medium-sized backpack, so the removal of clothes from my bag, post-trip, is a swift process. But the unpacking of my mind takes time, particularly if I didn’t write much while abroad. I started off well in Berlin, due to being wide awake in my hotel room a few times, at four in the morning. (Productive insomnia is fantastic.)
So, here’s a virtual purging of my (mental) suitcase, and a sampling of the pages in my Moleskine. Just a bit of cleaning up. Once my mind returns, I’ll diligently expand on some thoughts in my next posts.
* * *
Sebastian Haffner’s Defying Hitler. (Cheers to Lauren for lending me the memoir.) Passages to note:
On the Stresemann era of peace, 1924-29 p. 56
“A generation of young Germans . . . had never learned to live from within themselves, how to make an ordinary private life great, beautiful, and worthwhile, how to enjoy it and make it interesting. So they regarded the end of the political tension and the return of private liberty not as a gift, but as a deprivation. They were bored, their minds strayed to silly thoughts, and they began to sulk. In the end they waited eagerly for the first disturbance, the first setback or incident, so that they could put this period of peace behind them and set out on some new collective adventure.”
This unity, this collective madness. I understand how it was (and is) possible. How morbid. And how (strangely) exhilarating.
On young love, p. 67
“It is most certainly a romantic lie that one really loves only once in a lifetime. It is rather futile to seek to compare amorous experiences which are in essence incomparable, and try to classify them in some order, and declare, ‘I loved this or that woman most of all.’ It is true, however, that at a certain stage in life, about the age of twenty, a love affair and the choice of partner affect one’s destiny and character more than at others. For the woman one loves stands for more than just herself; a whole view of the world, a notion of life, an ideal, if you will, but one come alive, made flesh and blood. It is the privilege of some youths of twenty to love in a woman what later, as a man, they will look upon as their guiding star.”
To grow up, to form one’s mind, during the rise of the Third Reich. I cannot fathom. And I fear that love, or any positive emotions, rarely survived. Passages like the one above… Ever so fleeting. And comforting. I wonder, if a person was able to relive his or her life in a very different era, would they fundamentally be the same person?
* * *
Loved seeing that mother and son on the U-Bahn.
To Do: Ask mom and dad what I was like on family vacations when I was little. Dependent? Observant? Needy? As a traveler, was I anything like the perpetually crying kindergartener I was? Oh, good god.
* * *
Online relationships: no longer superficial?
A need for them. Not to replace, but to enhance.
I have a constant, urgent need to travel solo. I have a need to be with close friends, people I love and who know me well. I have a need to seek the company of friends who don’t live physically close to me, to connect and discuss things I simply don’t do with friends from home. Why is this? And is there a danger in compartmentalizing these relationships?
Why have I begun to view my real-life friends and pals from the past on Facebook differently than my virtual friends? I’ve thought about this contrast for a while now. An increasingly significant concern as I formulate my views on the importance of online connections.
* * *
Possible useless “How To” posts:
How To Gain £5.5 by Eating a Flower
How To Transform Into a Gremlin (With or Without Whiskey)
How To Slowly Shift the Worldview that Mogwai(s) are Evil Beings
* * *
How do I write about something without writing about it? I think I have done this before. Extreme subtlety? Metaphor? Ostensibly meaningless fragments? Honestly not sure. Yet.
* * *
I keep returning to Traveling With a Purpose: Pointless?, which I wrote in Berlin. I don’t agree with my February 19 self. And yet, I do. I immediately think of Bosch. Of his Garden of Earthly Delights. Many, many, many pieces, nonsensical on their own, but ultimately meaning something when combined.
Past AHA! moments. Past thresholds, crossroads. They come and go, and the wisdom picked up from such moments dissipates. I am left to travel again, somewhere new. I gather I should pluck these moments from my memory and place each into a glass jar. And I hope that each time I gaze through the glass, I see the things I’ve learned, the people I’ve met and who have changed me, the ideas that push me to keep exploring.
- Notes on Virtual Life, Part III: Nomadic Relationships
- Notes on Virtual Life, Part II: Facebook, Twitter, and the Seeds of Compartmentalization
- Notes on Virtual Life, Part I: The Evolution of Friendship
- Persona in the Virtual World: Crafting a Second Self
Cheri Lucas Rowlands
Writer at Writing Through the Fog. Editor at Automattic.