The hosting service dropped me an e-mail the other day reminding me that this site needed some caring.
To this day, there are no other records of this journey so I decided to sit down and go through all the broken links and media files. I spent two days reading the words and watching the old familiar faces. Needless to say, I was emotional. It wasn’t just nostalgia, but also the fact that some of the words were still able to speak to me.
It’s been seven years since I took off on this journey “around the world”.
Back then, before the trip, I had calculated that it would take me six months to complete it. I did it in five months and 28 days. It felt like nothing had changed when I was back with my wife at my apartment and my colleagues at the office. Everything looked exactly the same as I had left before. As if I had not been anywhere. “After all, six months wasn’t too long!” I thought to myself.
I remember the day when my friend Paul, who was the chief editor of an adventure motorcycling magazine did an interview with me about the journey. I could sense thru his questions, how he was trying to extract some sort of an exciting story. It didn’t work. There was no story to be extracted. He kindly gave up and the bit never got published. What I had experienced riding my bike around the world did not seem to mount to anything significant. From the outside, it all appeared to be in vain. I was also convinced of this indifference.
But there was still something inside of me. An echo or a scent… Something I wasn’t able to define or explain. A friendly voice speaking in a foreign language, or the smell of a meal cooking in a stranger’s house… Something that was beyond reach, yet familiar. Something I missed dearly and yet had never fully experienced. Occasionally, the thought of all those people and places I encountered on the journey, continuing to exist in my absence, bothered me deeply. As if I had left a part of myself behind, never to get it back.
Unknowingly, I had carried back seeds that would painfully grow into life-changing visions. The idea of settling down into a life of habitual existence started to smother me. I had lost interest in that kind of a life but did not know any way out of it either. I did not know how to undo all those walls I had carefully built. Instead, I tried to ignore the feeling and chose to consume my mind with the professional problems at work and idle time at home.
It didn’t work. Something had to change and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even admit to it.
But my wife did. About two years after my return, she left me. There was no easy way of doing it after more than a decade of being so close to each other. She said it was her time to take off for an adventure and she did not know if she’d be back. It had to be open ended… I could easily see how well she must have thought of this analogical explanation. She was in love with someone else, and all I could do was to respect it. I never knew any other way of dealing with that feeling. Still don’t.
2012 was in a way, the end of the world as I knew it. I dealt with the daily pragmatic necessities of life, with the same polished dexterity a heroin addict deals with an injector needle. Going to work, working overtime, drinking and smoking at night, sleeping very late, waking very early… It all seemed to work out just fine.
In fact, I wasn’t even there. My mind wasn’t occupied by the pragmatic mechanical workings of things. I was busy ‘observing’ them. I started looking at the world in a completely new way. I saw people. I saw souls. I looked at their eyes and listened to their voices, their songs. I read their words. I read them again. I wrote them down so that I could remember and read them again. I was hungry for them. Anything that seemed to have a soul became very attractive. I was able to coexist with these souls as long as I pretended I was busy living in their world. They though I was their client, friend, neighbor etc. But I was devouring them.
The motorcycle I used on the trip was sitting in the garage. It felt too heavy, loaded with memories and meaning. I couldn’t get myself on it. A boy named Güven was staying at my place back then. We listened to records and conversed as far as our minds could handle. I loved his soul. I watched it dream and long for adventure. He wanted to ride. He wanted to ride to distant places. One night, I decided to give the bike to him so that I could see his soul taste that freedom. I think he knew what I was getting out of the deal, so he accepted it.
I slowly got rid of everything that was weighing me down and started enjoying life as if it could end any moment. All my feelings were amplified. I touched people without reservations. Sometimes at their expense. I lost fear. I lived off of two metal suitcases in a guesthouse, riding a 1979 Triumph Tiger to work and back. I was obsessed with a few records and kept listening to them over and over again.
One evening, Sarah called me asking how I was doing. There was a lot to talk about so we decided to go out for dinner in a cheap burger joint. As I was listening to her, I started hearing a series of thoughts in my mind. A constant stream of possibilities with Sarah in my life. So many of them and so fast, that they started overlapping. The thoughts became faster than I could follow. In a matter of seconds, I went thru a few lifetimes of possibilities with her. And all of them felt as real as the possibility we were experiencing right there and then. I felt as though I knew her soul, and it made me feel content.
I’m writing these lines as she’s sleeping beside me. She bears our child inside her body. We expect it to come to life in a few weeks. It’s a boy. An Argentinian boy. He was conceived during our two year long journey on the Pan-American.
I know that all of those possibilities are still as real as the one we are living now. I’ll always try to remember that while I enjoy this one.
The motorcycle is supposedly somewhere in Mexico City. Güven rode it up until Guatemala, but had to turn around because he ran out of money and health. So he sold it in Mexico City for the price of a plane ticket.
You should have seen the fear and excitement in his eyes when he rolled it out of the garage, the first night of his journey. I loved it.