It is a feeling of relief, almost of pleasure, at knowing yourself at last genuinely down and out. You have talked so often of going to the dogs – and well, here are the dogs, and you have reached them, and you can stand it. It takes off a lot of anxiety. ― George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London
A few weeks ago, a friend folded my hand into hers and said, This trip you’re about to take, it’ll change you. You’ll come back changed in some remarkable way. As someone who shies away from an abundance of touch, I laughed and said, I’m not already remarkable? To which she responded, You’ll be remarkable in a way that you can finally see. Since then I’ve been thinking about what my friend said and how the strange and unsettling — Germans call it das unheimliche, the sense of the uncanny, the opposite of what is familiar can have the capacity to make you see what has been in front of you all along.
Every few years I return to this quote from Orwell. Over the years I’ve developed a fondness for it, because I’ve gone to the dogs; I’ve endured the war, the carnage and wreckage, and have come out on the other side victorious. Shaken, but a survivor still. I don’t know how that is, really. How I always have the capacity to rebound, how I’ve been so resilient all these years, but this year I challenged myself to abandon the comfort that I had known because I wanted to feel unsettled. Never have I sought out war, summoned it like a fakir, but my head and heart are the clearest they’ve ever been and I found myself whispering, now.
So here’s to getting lost and finding myself away. Three countries, three planes, countless trains, new friends and old, and all the miles in between. Things will be quiet here for the next few days, but watch for oodles of photos, eats, and everything in between.