Wednesday, September 2

Infinite Return

Hokay so. Yesterday marks one year since landing, very small and terrified and determined, in England at the beginning of these things. That is where I slept beside the underground, danced with a dragon, learned about telling stories in yellow places, birthday picknicked with old friends and new Lithuanians not to mention two little plastic giraffes named Icki and Achoo. The things that matter stick and other things slide away, like peanut butter. As for peanut butter, there was another blog once. Shortlived, it ended after just one summer. And this one is ending now too. This will be the last post. As for peanut butter, I miss eating it on a regular basis. Last night I had a piece of toast with the beloved substance smeared on it, which Matthias said had been sitting in his cabinet since March, but there was nothing wrong and everything right with it. I am buying peanut butter this week in Princeton, Brett, if you don't already have some, and I know you don't. Hello, now I am obsessing about the goober goo, but I can't help it, and I am obsessing about a lot of things these days because obsession is a home you can travel with. In the South of France, near Toulouse, I ate good crunchy SunTime peanut butter, which is the main brand to be found abraod as far as I found, on some old stale French bread. I was so happy. It belonged to Pierrot, who also has a funny permanent stash of things like Captain Crunch, boxed green lentils, and chocolate covered peanuts in little yellow boxes. Pierrot loves many things American, though he is funny about it and wouldn't ever say it that way. He is also funny about being ''not Jewish'' and has a Mezuzah hung stick-straight, up-and-down on the inside of the door, so you see it only when you're going out. But he insists since it's his dad who is Jewish and not his mother that he never really will be. His last name is Levy. He plays the saxophone and has the most extensive collection of hardback comicbooks I have seen outside of a certain store in Paris, which is a bomcination of interests I have encountered once before. He also plays the accordion and is an accountant for his normal job. He is Eric's best friend and Eric said Pierre, who was cooking fish while I was there, once went through a hamburger phase, spending months in the kitchen obsessing over the formation of different kinds of patties. He shared some really fancy biological chocolate muesli with me even though he didn't want to. But he teases me like I am a sister and this is how I know he thinks I'm all right, even if after months of practice I suddenly can't understand a word of French around this house and tangly Portugaltanned musicplaying vandriving people who park and unpark in the grassy driveway. Eric and I picked wild blackberries the other day from the brambles around the neighbor's fields. The ones with the most insects coming and going are the ripest. You know the ripe ones too because they practically jump into your hand when you touch them at the stem. I say I am ripe, pick me. I forget the French word for ripe but remember the word for elbow, wrist, calf.

Coude can also mean a bend in the river, which is where we took our bath in Aveyron. Green soap in a plastic Ziploc baggie, la luxe. Where did the baggie go? Afloatin downriver, like us. Mmhmm...

These days I am obsessed less with describing and most of all with listing and naming things that give some order to the last year. Cataloguing. I could catalogue the last year with the names of places and direction words, like this:

Atlanta to Houston, Houston to London. London. Up to Cambridge. London. Down to Brighton. London. Across to Dublin. Tipperary. County Clare. Down to Cork. Rosslare to Cherbourg. Around Normandy. Mayenne. Rennes. Mayenne in that little red car. Paris. Paris to Barcelona. Barcelona the way Dylan says it. to Porto. Porto. to Lisbon. Lisboa to Algeciras to Tangier. Chefchaouen, Fes, Marrakech, Essaouira. Back up and through, to Melilla to Malaga. Malaga. Grenada. Gibralter/La Linea. Cadiz. Malaga. doctors offices. Hlls near Malaga, Torremuelle, and back. Malaga to Madrid and back. Malaga to Barcelona. Catalyunia, Torello. Girona to Florence to unknown hills. Hills to Umbria, Orvieto. Rome. Rome to Vienna to Klagenfurt. Maltschach See, Feldkirchen City. Vienna. Vienna to Paris to Bayonne to St. Jean Pied de Port (slowly, walking, St. Jean, Roncesvalles, Larrasoana, Pamplona, Puerta la Reina, Estella, Torres del Rio, Logrono, Navarrete, Azofra, Gronon, Villafranca, Orbaneja Riopico, Burgos, Hontanas, Boadilla, Carrion de los Condes, Ledigos, Bericano del Real Camino, Mansilla de las Mulas, Leon, Hospital de Orbigo, Astorga to Ponferrada en bus, Pereje, O Cebreiro, Samos, Portomarin, Palas del Rey, Arzua, Monte de Gozo, Santiago, Negreira, O---, Finisterre.) Finisterre. Back to Santiago to Madrid to London. London in the middle of the night to Cork. Cork. London. Cambridge. London. London to Newark to Atlanta, Marietta. Areas around Minneapolis. Marietta. To Princeton, briefly. To New York.

I have to tell something. You know I left New York again to go to London, to Cork. But I didn't make it at first. In London they stopped me, because they did not like my one-way ticket. I was put in a locked fluorescent-lighted room behind a window, where they tried to provide comfort with vending machine tea, fruits, sandwiches, meanwhile setting about the business of my deportation. I was sent back to the States from Heathrow with a big black X stamped in my passport. They escorted me to the plane and put me on it and sent me back. I stayed a night in Brooklyn with Lindsay, lovely feathered lady, and booked on her laptop a roundtrip ticket to Dublin. And left again the next day, which was Father's Day. That is the true story of how I came back to Europe. Determined as hell.

So the next part would go like this:

New York to London Heathrow to New York. New York to Dublin. Dublin to Cork. Cork. Cork. Cork. Cork. Cork. to Paris. Paris almost to Brest, but not. Paris down down down to Leon. Leon walking Alix to the bus station, Leon walking walking to Ponferrada. Ponferrada walking to Villafranca. Villafranca swimming in the river. Villafranca to Madrid. Hot heat of Madrid, sitting sweating behind shades watching movies Madrid. Madrid to Malaga. Malaga. Malaga just up the coast, just barely Malaga to Madrid to Bordeaux to Perigeux to ----- to Aurillac en camion. Aurillac en camion to near Toulouse. Around Aveyron. Beside the river, in the little river with the green soap. On top of the cliffs. At the bottom of the cliffs. Little streams. Wild blackberries. Monsieur l'homme au chapeau driving the van. Making crepes, savory and sweet, in the van. Sweet and then savory again. Sleeping in the crepe-smelling van. Tired, mosquito-bitten and happy and sad, drinking one more coffee outside le plus petit aeroport de Rodez. Rodez to Dublin.

Tomorrow Dublin to Newark.
And that is one way to organize this thing.

Or I could do it with the names of people encountered, befriended, loved along the way, maybe with their places of origin and the places where they lived and showed me their lives, the little names of towns, street names, names of pets. Or how about the foods prepared in different companies, the various platters eaten, or not eaten, at certain times, in certain places. Tea and toast in rural Ireland, cappuccinos and scones in Cork, pastries and espresso in France, tortillas and fruit juice from the Ramblas in Barcelona, the big honking Francesinha in Porto, and so forth. The corresponding size of a certain bellybot. Ther different kidns of wine purchased and uncorked, prices of purchase, places uncorked. The names of grocery store chains where countless apples, spreadable cheese, chocolate bars were bought. the names of farmers markets. Or one of my favorite ways to catalogue, the things acquired and lost or relinquished along the way. Rocks and shells picked up, charms given and received, feathers, drawings, poems said and heard. The everchanging size and shape of a single maroon Osprey backpack. the corresponding changes ina body, muscle size and shape. Calf size. Or how about the lengths of hairs on a head. Or I've thought of listing by the loved ones back home I was thinking of or calling or writing to at certain times. Their stories, motions, losses and gains, of jobs and other things, changes of habitation, pictures and jokes emailed, not emailed, appearances and disappearances in dreams, where dreamed and with what colors. Or books read, films seen, in which languages and in which venues. Beds and surfaces slept on. The ripeness of various fruits, which things harvested at which times and in which fields, and in which plump pick-me colors.

By this time I understand that this is how I move. Leaving, coming back. Going away, returning. Going away before I've left, coming back before I've returned. Returning before I've gone away. Leaving before I've come. Turning and infinitely returning. Passing, passing, passing again. I am very fatigued by this, but I cannot help it. I hope to rest soon, but I know I will rest even by turning, returning. I really cannot help it. As a good friend quoted to me once, I was drawn that way.

See you soon. Time for sleeps.