Countdown

Thirteen hours left in San Francisco, give or take, and this is what I’m aware of: My feet are killing me. The anxiety of the last weeks and, especially, days is gone, replaced by a kind of hazy numbness that emanates from the borders of my skin. When I hold something in my hand, my fingers seem to touch it through layers of gauze. Has any trip ever been subject to more planning, to a more intense process of calculation and second-guessing, to more logistical maneuvering and hierarchies of contingency? And given that, what else can there be left to do now? What’s done is done; what isn’t done will not be done, what ought to have been done—well, there’s plenty of time for regret and revision. It’s the end of the act; tomorrow I start in this familiar place before the sun but end up somewhere entirely different. At least, let’s hope that’s the case. Going on a long trip strikes me as a kind of minor dress rehearsal for death: it’s a moment-by-moment reshuffling of urgencies, an escalation of desire (or an intensification of detachment). Mourning for things not done, not seen, not finished is wicked and sharp, and then the next episode looms on the horizon for a moment before it, too, zips by on its way to … to the place where old priorities finish. It’s exhilarating and exhausting. Your movement creates a fierce friction, and you feel your edges fraying like prayer flags in the wind.

This evening, waiting to pick Jeannie up at the BART, I bought two books as a kind of talismanic offering to my hope that I’ll start to like reading books again for pleasure, that I’ll sit on some piazza or park bench, out of the glare of the sun but well within the healthy brightness of day, and read and look up occasionally to see what people are doing and remember how to travel like that, how to seek leisure like a cat seeks comfort and how to love it with my whole heart when it comes.

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Posted on 25 July 2005, in Tales from the Road, Write ... che ti passa. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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