Inspired by a comment from Paul Squires I will be posting sections from a work in progress: The Spain Diary. I will be posting the dairy in installments (as they are typed up and edited). Feed back would be appreciated, but more importantly I want you to come along, and indulge in this mysterious and unusual journey that I took in 2004. ‘sta luego.
1. Oakland, California
I have a terrible time letting go. Tomorrow my girlfriend and I leave for Spain. Our current compact one bedroom apartment is littered with restless garments and various idiosyncratic condiments that are waiting to make their way into my suitcase. Our indoor black cat, who prefers t
o be called Monk, sits forlornly in one of the suitcases. I assume that he is wanting to come with us rather than being placed into the foster care of my psycho-analytic sister who will tend to his numerous needs during the next three weeks of our absence. I have successfully avoided stepping foot on an airplane for almost eleven years now, but with my current girlfriend this seems to be an impossible crusade to carry on. She refuses to stay with me if I do not travel, and I am left in a predicament where I either loose the woman I love or get over my horrible fear. Surprisingly on this night, my fear is relatively absent- despite a tight jaw and my occasional ruminations upon death from a terrible loss of engine power that sends our lovely little airplane into a nose dive towards mother earth. I shake momentarily with subtle horror when these thoughts come into my consciousness, but then I take a small shot of whiskey that helps me to let these irascible thoughts go.
At this point in my thirty fourth year of existence, my greatest goal is to break out from the servitude of my self imposed existence of pre-fabricated comfort zones. I have a tendency to spend most of my time within a ten mile radius of my home. Outside of work, I keep myself locked up in a wall to wall carpeted one bedroom apartment with my cat on my lap and a book in my hand. Every man or woman reaches a point in his or her life, where it is time. And this is my time. It is my time to let go and travel despite how much I am dreading it. The past few afternoons I have spent more time staring at the sky, trying to comprehend the incomprehensible thought that I am going to be “up there” in the sky- where only the birds should fly. The thought bends my mind and sends little shots of adrenaline rushing to my heart. This is the stuff of science fiction- but tomorrow I am going to Spain and there is not a dam thing I can do about it.
(by the way, this journal that I am currently writing in and taking with me to Spain- I stole it today.)
I want to imbed this concept into my fear ridden mind: “First of all you need to understand that no objective reality exists but that which is created by consciousness. Consciousness always creates form, and not the other way around. So my environment is a reality of existence created by myself and others like me, and it represents the manifestation of our development.” I also want to remember: “Identity is not dependent on form.” The more I imbed these concepts into my mind the more I must realize that life is but a dream, that my thoughts create my reality and that the flesh I carry around is imaginary and so is the airplane that I will be floating in- so what the hell do I have to fear???
Am I just going to sit here in my own hell? I know hell is eternal- and a living hell has the luxury of being brief. But I want you to see this from my perspective. You see, it is my belief that as long as a person is living through hell in the moment, this hell IS eternal and forever. It is pointless telling someone who is in hell that “everything will be okay” and that their “suffering will end soon.” This is like telling someone who is under the influence of anesthesia to “wake up!” But my girlfriend looks calm while currently I am a man in hell. I am too nervous to even continue writing in this journal. I am being subjected to the torment of turbulence at around 30,000 feet above ground. I am a six foot six man who has been shoved into the working class section of this gigantic airplane (how does this fucking thing stay in the air, and who the hell are these people who get to sit in first class???) and my discomfort is showing by the sweat that is pouring from my forehead and my hand which is grasping onto my girlfriends hand. I am being tortured…with ten hours to go. Fuck.
4. Madrid, Spain
Survived. How I do not know. But I know I am still alive because I can perceive form. Unless there is form in the spirit world. But I am almost positive that I am still alive. I am in a hostel in downtown Madrid and outside my window taxi cabs and pollution make their way through the large city like bacteria in blood. This morning I went for an exhausted walk which filled me with a strange mixture of elation and anxiety. I was elated because I was no longer in a country that I despised. Freed from the turpitude of American civilization, each step I was taking was on foreign ground!! I was anxious because I was beginning to suffer the strange and beguiling symptoms of jet lag.
Currently, I am sick and trembling. The coffee here is strong enough to kill an elephant and the orange juice I drank for breakfast is acidic enough to burn a hole in a copper coin. Last night when we arrived in Madrid I was like a wild bird set free from its cage. My girlfriend and I checked into our hostile and then roamed the new found foreign streets of Madrid. We went from bar to bar like two time travelers, mystified by the new world in which they found themselves. I indulged myself in cup after cup of Spanish red wine and smoked a pack of cigarettes. I was celebrating the fact that I had discovered a new world.
Jen, my girlfriend, is telling me that I am sneezing a lot. The city is dirty but beautiful. The shower is to small for my six foot six body, but I managed to squeeze myself in and rinse. We are not staying in the most luxurious of accommodations. The room is green, the bed is bent, the balcony looks out onto a white wall and the bathroom is the size of a shoebox. But who cares, at this moment despite the fact that I am sick and about to vomit- I feel like this is a small price to pay for being the luckiest man alive.
5. Room Without A View. Madrid, Spain.
And then it hits me with the force of gravity. Jen and I have no choice but to remain in bed for the day. Jen is dizzy and I am also spinning. The room we are staying in is a surreal mystery theatre that I can not figure out. The bookshelves and the coat rack keep moving. So does the archaic chandelier that hangs from the ceiling. Who am I again? Symptoms: chest tightness, vertigo, lethargy, shortness of breath, anxiety and fear of sudden death. I think it is afternoon in Madrid. Sirens sound in my head. The white sheets that I have been lying on all day smell like bleach. Am I Kurt Cobain? The smell of rotten fish wafts through the open windows. It must be past lunchtime? I can not move from this bed. The floor is like little waves of water. Jen calls our current affliction a homogenization of jet lag, time change, too much red wine last night and being displaced which are all creating a feeling that is equivalent to being a fish in a fishbowl. I am not ready to die yet Jen! I still want to marry you! So I take a multivitamin and some liquid trace minerals with a lot of water. The maid is vacuuming the hallways and I think there is a bird loose some where in our room. Jennifer can not hear me when I talk. A dog barks and more motorbikes, horns make their way down my wall. I am surprised that they have dogs in Spain.
Jen is asleep. She is sprawled out on her stomach like she has just fallen from a great height and landed on this miserable bed. Her beautifully seraphic hair is displayed gracefully all over her youth filled back. I love her more than I thought I would and at some point I would like to ask her if we can make babies. But not now, not yet. First I have to survive this house of mirrors. The white stucco walls are still breathing. Good. The lithe white drapes are gently swaying with each slight Spanish breeze. A siren, the maid is shouting in Spanish and I think I am going to be sick.