As My Youth Prepares to Set Sail, I Mistake North for South
October 8, 2007
“A traveler changes routes, itineraries, schedules and wanders the planet.”
-Andy from Hobotraveler.com, Traveler vs. Tourist
I am young. But not for long. To borrow Andy’s way of gaging age, I am 26 years old, probably look like I am 36, sometimes feel like 46, and act like I am 16. I am watching youth, that holy devil, bound over the plank and into the great Ship of Past Things-
Getting ready to sail on the Never Returning Seas of History.
I have recently gotten the notion, as I sometimes do, that I should eat this youth trip up during its last glimmering days. I have no fear of getting older. To the contrary, I welcome age and the character depth and experience that it brings- but I do not think that I am there yet. There is something holding me back, telling me to join with some friends and exploit this time of our lives to the fullest. . to share my joyful, playful youth with others.. . . before many of my quickly aging friends disappear into the deep, dark cellar of antiquated responsibility. . . . From where I will not be able to access them in the same free-flowing capacity.
Sometimes I live really crazy. Sometimes I live really tamely. There is no in between. Either I am running a fast course into a glorious no- man’s- land of far off horizons and folly, or I am just sit with my face in a book in some stray little town, being real content, quiet, and jolly. I play each extreme out until I cannot stand it any longer and then snap harshly into the complete opposite extreme.
I have truly enjoyed these quiet, bookish days in Meknes, but I feel that it is time for a little excitement. Mira, from Wanderjahr Jill travelogue, is arriving in Casablanca tomorrow night. It is time to move on to the next extreme. . .I need to stretch my legs a little. Three weeks of the studious life here in Meknes was good for whatever it is worth, but now it is time to be moving on. Too much time in books entraps the mind and opaques the soul. I am ready to cease my redundant mental chatter and thoughtlessly chase some horizons . . .taste some fruit that was not previously printed on paper and clasps into binding.
I have been rethinking my planned route through West Africa. It would be a good run, for sure, and one that I really want to make, but I do not know if it is my path at this particular time. A traveller’s mind is most comfortable in flux. . . and it is nothing out of the ordinary to go north when the plan is to go south….this I know:
I am not indecisive, I am free. And a free man never professes to make up his mind.
I think that I may break down and heed the call of friends in Europe. I really do miss them and am getting a little tired of these ongoing years of email communication. The daily thoughts of the wine, fun, and good cheer of Europe are also wearing on my southernly, desert crossing resolve. I have been invited by my old Chilean friends Sergio Villagran (the great tattoo artist) and his wife, JessieAnne, to immediately go up to the south of France where they now live. I made a promise to them that I would visit them this year. This promise was made while I was in China, and now that I am so close to them, it would be a sacrilege to the institute of friendship to not get up there soon. There are also many other dear friends of the Road who are now in Europe: Jennie the Swede, who I met in a storage closet in London many years ago, Dana, my jolly gaijn friend from Japan, is now in the Neatherlands, Yumi, my Japanese traveller friend, is in Hungary, Mira’s crazy friend Katie from Costa Rica is in London, and a Flemish traveller who made a really deep impression on me in Mongolia is currently home in Belgium. Yes, I hear them all calling to me now, with big beers in hand and smiles on their faces. . . . I don’t know if they are aware of all the bad jokes that they could be in for.
. . . . and, of course, Ubertramp (www.ubertramp.com) will soon be back in England, dancing to Janis Joplin . . .
Perhaps West Africa can wait until after a quick run to the north?