An old traveler

Yesterday, I was reading a travel guide for Amsterdam, Brussels, and Bruges–three cities, along with Paris, I will visit in September. The most fun part was studying the maps and tracing walking tours. I imagined V was accompanying me on the trip. We walked along foreign streets, and sat in cafes refreshing ourselves.

She sat down beside me unexpectedly and unannounced while I was immersed in thoughts of traveling. I enjoyed sitting with her. I did not mention how sad I was that she was not going with me. The melancholy of it disturbs my thoughts this morning. But I would rather have this melancholy than not having met her at all, despite my disappointments regarding the impossible.

I suppose these thoughts made me fish four of the Sebald novels from the book stacks in my apartment. They are written in the first person. The protagonists are melancholy travelers through Europe. These characters share a personal exhaustion with the age in which they live and the countries through which they travel. The plots are a fascinating accumulation of detail. The hero starts his journey tired and melancholy. He never leaves those states despite who he has met or what he has witnessed. All seems as it necessarily must be.

I feel old today. That’s just as well, for I am. I resist any attempt at objectivity as I think about what I want to do. I cannot say anything as eloquently as a Sebald character can, yet I may never have tried, for eloquence arises from the subjective, not the objective. I’ve run away from myself for so many years I wonder if I can ever recover something imitating a genuine self.

I hear in my mind’s ear Willie Nelson singing his beautifully styled version of I Can See Clearly Now.

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Published in: on August 28, 2008 at 9:51 am  Leave a Comment  

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