Thursday, February 12, 2009

End of the line

The train slips gently out of the station. A tiny, almost imperceptible bump, an we're away. It gains a bit of speed as we pass through the suburbs of Paris, and now that we're in open countryside, we're hammering down the line. It's got to be at least 300 kilometres from Paris to Calais, but we're going to do it in under two hours. 

I gave my guidebook away this morning to James, the Irish guy from Wrexford. He's just starting out, and I'm finishing up. It feels nice to give it away. It's letting go of a little bit of the past. That book's been with me for six months now, and it's all I've breathed at times. I've traced the legs of my trip on the maps, and I've poured over the historical overviews to refresh my memory of things past.

But it's over now. My time's up, and it's better to let it go. If I'd kept it, it'll be up on the shelf in a month's time, and won't budge from that spot until I feel like a bit of dusting. It'll be nice to think that James will get some use out of it, and pass it on to the next guy when he's finished with it. 

James seems a bit lost, to tell the truth. He tells me that he's sick of Ireland, and he's going to stay away until the thought of returning home doesn't fill him with revulsion. He's after an experience that's so completely different to his way of life that he'll have a renewed appreciation for al those things he's taken for granted. 

I suppose we're all looking for the same thing. A lot of the people I've met have the same disaffection for the life they lead, and want something else. And they're all wandering around, trying to find it. 

Like Taylor, who followed his girlfriend to Spain and ended up running a hostel. I wonder if, when he's having a drink on the balcony and watching the sun bounce off the Alhamra, he marvels about how the steps from Iowa to Granada. 

Like David, the itinerant English sketch artist, is wandering around southern Spain until he doesn't feel like he has to anymore. He gave up his corporate job a few years back, and he's saving up for another pilgrimage to Santiago. He calls himself the lost photographer, and he always says that when he finds out where he is, he'll stop and stay. 

Like Jiat, the reluctant Korean conscript, who's probably in the Baltic states by now. He's planning one big trip across the Trans-Siberian railway before he starts his compulsory two year stint in the army. He's shit-scared of the neo-Nazis in Moscow, but he's even more scared of his future back home. 

I don't know. Nigel's somewhere in Syria by now. Dylan's back in Alberta, enduring sub zero temperatures and planning his next trip abroad. Michael's back in Adelaide, preparing to go back to uni, and Mil and Sally are back in Melbourne enduring the heatwave.

I wonder if anyone ever finds what they're looking for. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Look forward to having you home.

Your brother