51. Scenes from a yearriage
That makes no sense I'm sorry
On the island of Korpo it is too hot. Moss crackles underfoot. Even if you know nothing about moss you know it’s not supposed to crackle. Every step seems capable of lighting the entire island ablaze.
The hills above Zagreb
Hiking above Zagreb’s old town we come across what looks like a durian husk, but turns out to be a perfectly hollowed out hedgehog. Some enterprising animal has managed to avoid all (most?) of the spikes. [Wernor Herzog voice] Nature here is vile.
He arrives at the wedding looking like the man you’d want when your refrigerator needs replacing. 20 minutes later he emerges with all the swagger that made mothers lock up their daughters. Elvis is in the building. “How y’all doin’ tonight?”
Victoria, British Columbia
On Thursday nights entry to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is by donation, the woman at the counter makes sure to inform me. It’s Thursday and I’m going in at noon. That’s ok, I say, and pay the full price, feeling like a real Medici.
The concrete swimming pool is built directly into the sea. At high tide the boundaries overfill, and all that’s left above water is the diving board. It’s very cold when I go in. I’m sharing the pool with three other people; all seem about twice my age. Looking back into town you’re greeted by the medieval fort wall, a gaggle of tourists taking selfies. I slip under the waves and imagine I’m a navy seal.
I was asked to read at my godson’s christening. This is what I read:
Teach the children. We don't matter so much, but the children do. Show them daisies and the pale hepatica. Teach them the taste of sassafras and wintergreen. The lives of the blue sailors, mallow, sunbursts, the moccasin flowers. And the frisky ones – inkberry, lamb's-quarters, blueberries. And the aromatic ones – rosemary, oregano. Give them peppermint to put in their pockets as they go to school. Give them the fields and the woods and the possibility of the world salvaged from the lords of profit. Stand them in the stream, head them upstream, rejoice as they learn to love this space they live in, its sticks and leaves and then the silent, beautiful blossoms.
Attention is the beginning of devotion.
The restaurant is empty, but without a reservation they won’t let us in. Chef is sick, we’re told, meaning there’s only one chef in the entire kitchen. A bone tired young man nods at us while plating skewers. All of Zagreb is experiencing a staffing shortage. Apparently during the summer months hospitality workers head to the coast, ready for German tourists and their bigger tips.
Congee Noodle House is closed. A sinkhole opened in its parking lot, and they haven’t reopened since.
The man shaped like a barrel is banging out rock ballad after rock ballad. It’s some time past midnight, and the karaoke bar shows no sign of emptying. Groups are seamlessly replaced by other groups, louder and more up for it than the last. A young man blasts his way through The Prodigy’s “Firestarter”; a woman from the same party ends her song by being carried aloft by friends, her arms spread wide in triumph.
“Does anywhere feel like home to you?” I’ve been talking for what feels like hours about how I can’t find THE thing in my life to get behind. At this point even I’m bored, but remarkably the friends I’m talking to, the ones who willingly invited me over and fed me, are still listening.
I think for awhile. And ultimately say, no. No single place right now is the place I’d call home. Or at least, nowhere that I’m not currently at. So… everywhere is home? Which is another way of saying nowhere is…
That’s why, the friend says, you can’t settle on one thing. You’ll always do a lot of things. I’m not going to pretend this made sense to me in the moment, and I’m not sure it even makes sense to me now. I certainly can’t disprove it.
But it did make me think.
Where is my home? Increasingly, home has meant wherever I am with M. We make home, together. I’m sure I could find a quote by some well-liked source about how home is people and not a place, but I’m not sure I mean that. I don’t know if home is a person or people. I only know right now, it’s whatever city currently houses M and me.
The small space is remarkably quiet. No music. A couple reading at one table. Another couple whispers. We take our seats on wobbly stools and order wine and olives.
Maybe it was a coincidence, but when more people came in and it got louder, I cried. (Not because it was louder and there were more people.) Crying around another person is you saying to them this is the only way I know how to communicate with you, and I hope you hear what I’m saying.
Those were some smaller moments from my year. Thanks for being here. I hope you’ll get some rest now. I hope 2023 is something you’re looking forward to.
My 2023 might mean trips to Italy, Canada, and Japan. My word for 2023 is “intention”. My colour for 2023 is whatever goes best with dancing in public.
Until next time - stay warm and be cool.