Brussels, May 14th afternoon
I have managed to squeeze maybe two hours of sleep in the past forty-eight. I can't seem to sleep in public. It is impossible. I feel I have molten marrow in my bones and my anticipation the night before we left ruined me. We have been tromping all over a-hell-and-a-gone under random cloud bursts to find our hostel. It turned out to be a publishing company of the same name because I failed to print off the directions. Dumb. He says we will go to the Grote Market, because we didn't know where else to go. The heavy clouds broke just as we reached the dense square and the throngs of tourists ran for cover under the ornate buildings. We sat in a corner on the cold cement, leaning up against our packs. From under our heavily lidded structure we watched the spectacle of wide-legged youth running back and forth as the rain made up its mind one way, then the next. I was punchy from low blood sugar and lack of sleep and in desperate need of my second wind. He was, at the moment, at a loss for our next move, which he abhors. When the rain was all done we found that in our seek for shelter we had adroitly positioned ourself right next to the tourist info shop which gave us all we needed to find our hostel. Emerging from the building, I had to do a three-sixty in awe of what I had been huddling under for half an hour. There is absolutely nothing to see in Brussels except the Grand Market, but it is something to see, particularly after the rain, which made the gothic structures stark and even more contrasting, the depressions deeper and the statues dour.
We meandered down the street for the customary Belgian waffle and to gape at the Mannekin Pis, which is entertaining strictly for the purpose of watching the Japanese tourists chatter and take picture after picture. Tourists walk around with their camcorders in front of their faces, navigating the slippery cobbled streets via their view screens, the reality reproduced by the digital. Living their vacation vicariously so that they could relive it when they got home over their tv screens seemed to me to be the height of irony...
I have a picture, here
of a Japanese tourist stumbling along like a drunken man on the stones, only briefly looking up to locate his compariots at the Mannekin Pis.
Paris, May 15th, midnight
Yawning out of the opera we wander the streets of Bastille to find a place for dinner. We settle at a modest restaurant, after cruising the block twice and wondering just how American we look. A table next to ours is packed with excitable french men, gesticulating wildly and engaging in their rapid and passionate exchange. There is a current there, and I am sure there will be a fight before the evening is out, and I say so. We swoon over the wine and the escargot and the bread, and we are in Paris, and oh god the bread, and um, we're in Paris and as the voices raise and the arms start flailing even more madly and 'Ta guerle!' yes here they go, here it comes and one is up and now so is the other and chairs are scraping and I am clapping my hands with delight...
I have a picture here of the two mad dogs, being held back by their friends, eyes locked, straining... but not so hard, to get at each other.
The Seine, May 18th, midnight
It is raining this perfectly soft caressing rain, the kind that sinks in so deep that you feel lighter on the inside. I cannot miss this rain and it is our last night in Paris so I leave him alone in the apartment and walk along the river. I have no ID, no money and I don't care. It must be obvious that I don't care because no one is fucking with me. I am becoming so gloriously, completely effervescent
. I am so weightless in this rain. I can almost feel the hardened layers of guilt and fear and anger from the past months
curl off of me like the bark of a river birch tree. I shake them off my arms and kick them off my toes. My curls are binding together and my sarong
flaps heavy and rythmically against my calf. My shirt is soaked and the smell of him is released from it. I am walking along down to where I can see the Eiffel Tower and through my speckled lenses and dewy eyelashes, there it is. I see it . This thing I have held in my mind's eye as an anchored herald
of French cheese
since highschool... plafond!! plancher!!
all glowing orange. I am fascinated by the way one light on each side takes over for the other instead of one light going round and round like a light house
that I have to smile. I decide that that is a metaphor for a lot of things. When I float back I have been gone a long time and I have worried him and he grabs me and holds me and kisses me in all my wetness.
I have a picture here of that look on his face, a face that is naturally so impassive, of eyebrows knit and not yet yielding... and... something else. So that's what it looks like. (though I am sorry I worried you...)
Dublin, May 19th
We are in some pub in Temple Bar and I have two beautifully headed pints of Guinness and I lick my chops as I am trying to delicately plant my not so petite feet on itty bitty stairs to find where he has gone. I am tipsy and happy and cannot believe how good these pints are. A man from group claiming their pints before me swings around with a charming grin and I can see his right eyebrow split and held together with a butterfly bandaid. He has brownish green eyes and closely cropped dark hair. He opens his mouth to say something to me, but it just hangs there. I smile and just shake my head. His compatriots clap him on the back as he returns and looks sheepishly over his shoulder as I smile back at him. There are so many boys in Dublin with busted up faces and black eyes and split cheeks I can hardly believe it. It's just like Joyce said.
I have a picture here of the shy Irish boy and his split eyebrow.
Helsingor, Denmark, May 27th
We follow the signs to Louisiana, past the manicured hedges of perfect yards and the fragrant honeysuckle. We walk through a small bungalo and out onto the lawn and I just keep going, because what I am seeing is so good. We walk out to the drop off of a hill which overlooks the strait near Helsingor. We can see Sweden. I flop to the ground and I take off my shoes and so does he, so that means we are going to stay here for a while. We sit in a silence that is comfortable, and has been for a long time now. He reads his book and I contemplate the smell of sea and the laughter of the children and I roll over onto my stomach in the grass. I fall asleep and I dream.
I have a picture here of me, asleep and dreaming in public for the very first time.