I walked out of the “parish of singing sisters and stolen cell phones” in the dark. The camino snaked through the rest of the town, past several plazas, then headed downhill to the river I where I had sat down and written the previous days’ post the afternoon before. There’s something about a river, maybe cause we don’t have any in Southern California. L.A. River? Hah! Maybe if we have some rain… Sam Cooke said about a river, and life:
“I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh, and just like the river I’ve been running ever since
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna’ come, oh yes it will”
There been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long
But now I think I’m able to carry on
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna’ come, oh yes it will
After walking across the bridge over the river, the path moved into a tableau I’d come to know: the usual wheat, hay, maybe some corn, and most recently , sunflower fields. The sunflower fields I walked by were poised, waiting on the sun as it made it’s presence known. But it was still early, and the sun hadn’t rose above the horizon yet.
After 5 or 6 k out of town the road fell out of the soft rolling hills and straightened out. Cormac and Sinead caught up with me, and they consulted Brierley who let us know that we were walking on an original Roman road that was older than dirt. It was also made from dirt, and sand, and gravel….It dated back somewhere like even before the 60’s! We’re talking’ ancient. I looked behind me to see the sunrise coming up behind the town I had just left.
As we were walking and talking, we exchanged some interesting tidbits I’d like to pass along. By the way, one thing I’ve learned from life is that if you pepper your conversation with words from different cultures you sound more worldly. It’s sort of like asking a girl at a party: “Didn’t I meet you in Istanbul?” So, here’s a little something to you from my Irish friend: “clanger” means bad joke, in Irish slang. As in (provide your own Irish accent): Ay, that fooking Danny O’ Boyle thought the joke he told was good crack, but I thought it was a clanger”.
We continued to walk, the sun rose higher in the sky behind us and, as it tends to do, it got hotter. But as they say in Arizona on a scorching 120 degree day, at least it’s a dry heat 😉
A few kilometers after that scintillating conversation about clangers and crack, we stopped at a rest spot and ate some snacks we had packed. It was getting hotter still, and the road was straight, unshaded, and there weren’t any towns. We only had the wheat fields, sunflowers and each other to keep us company.
I was sad to know this would be my last day traveling with these new friends, but happy that I’d be going it entirely on my own from tomorrow on out. We finally reached Calzadilla de la Cueza and found a stone tablet that showed an alternate route off the highway, and took it. Brierley promised a more peaceful setting (at least it wasn’t on the highway) which I guess it was, but still it kind of reminded me of Riverside, sans crack houses and tattooed dudes in wife beater shirts.
The path wound through groves of short deciduous trees, and small fields of cut hay. I forged ahead and left Cormac and Sinead behind me. The road headed down to Ledigos where I thought I would stay. I sat at a cafe (the auberge wouldn’t be open for another hour or two) and wrote for awhile and had a Coke. I’ve never been a Coke drinker but out here…well…the Cokes are cold, and they’ve got caffeine. I usually end up having 2 or 3/ day.
Cormac and Sinead walked by as I was writing. They had chosen to head to Terradillos. I pondered my options (there wasn’t much to ponder- should I stay or should I go) so I decided to follow them, and dine with my friends one last night.
As I was walking alone to Terradillos, I was still trying to figure out exactly why I am here. There was no decision to be made. It simply landed in front of me. When the decision came, It was like it just appeared, like an unexpected tornado in a midwestern town. I do know I had no choice in the matter. The decision to fucking go was just there, and it wouldn’t budge. What’s weird is that I wasn’t even planning on taking a vacation this summer, and the camino was certainly not even on my mind (a dude had told me about it a few years prior-I think I discussed this in a prior post).
But there it was staring at me. It was base, instinctual. I didn’t even need to think about it, or analyze the decision. I was just going, and that was that. And then, logic and “common sense” rolled in and told me I couldn’t possibly go, as I had just been granted more time with Hannah after going to court. I would have to backpedal on the stipulation, and discuss it with Janice. But then I remembered that Janice and Hannah’s annual summer vacation back east would be around the time I wanted to walk, and was usually over 4-5 weeks. I emailed Janice, and they were scheduled to go back east on vacation mid-July to mid-August.
If this wasn’t the universe sending me a message, it sure was yet another funny coincidence, one of many that I’ve experienced over the past year. Maybe it’s best we don’t always rely on over examination and too much thought when it comes to decision making. It seems to me, in our society, that maybe we’ve become over analytical. Which doesn’t provide for us fucking up and learning. Check out Alan Watts here, about choice, and making decisions:
A note in my journal when Amanda and I began to drift apart, a few months before my journey to Spain:
We usually don’t change our lives unless an event, usually a big one, forces us to face a fact about ourselves that we know needs fixing. She didn’t indicate that one of those things existed. I was told that “the chemistry had changed”. Faded I guess, gone away. At one time, we did crash into each other, no intentions, with guns blazing, open to anything. We couldn’t keep our hands off each other. We needed each other.
And we fell into it. I gave every moment to her. I made compromises, I opened my soul and gave her every iota of my being. I never said no. I sat through bitter howls and screams for attention from her kids, reactions to her divorce and the uncaring attitude of their father. And I tried to dissect it and offer advice. Maybe me being there didn’t help the situation, but at the time it seemed it might help. I could at least be a man in the house that might help attenuate the situation.
Looking back I guess I was wrong. I thought I was reaching a new level of maturity. I was being thrown into a maelstrom, none of it my doing. I felt good and confident, not reacting to the venom and acting out that the kids threw at her trying to manipulate her and deal with their own sadness due to the divorce and loss of their father. And we’d sit up at night and talk about it, I’d offer advice the best I could. I felt in the moment, alive, helping, healing, loving. Something I had been missing.
But it didn’t matter. “Chemistry” got in the way. What the fuck is chemistry? Some sort of mature love is, what I thought, I was participating in. There was no doubt I loved her. And here I was, taking all of my time and energy, and giving to her, and trying to help her heal and mend the wounds from her failed marriage, and those her ex were foisting on the kids. But apparently it was some simple, “chemistry” that meant more than what I had given.
But only time would tell me the rest of the story, and why something that seemed so incredible for the both of us would come down to simple chemistry. I should have learned from high school class that chemistry is never simple…
Just as a magician must practice his tricks, we must practice the acceptance, the good thoughts, the things that set the stage for magic to happen. The magician doesn’t just wake up with some mystical powers that enable him to take that card from behind his ear and present it to you as the one you pulled out of the deck. Pretty sure he’s practiced that trick a thousand times.
But magicians are feckless. And I’m not talking about the ones that do magic tricks. I’m talking about life’s magicians. You might know one. He/she are out there, beyond the space you and I walk in. Not that we all don’t have the capability of being a magician. Just some of us have practiced the tricks a little more.
The tricks that life’s magicians do are the ones that that bring you and I a little closer to being real, authentic, to know ourselves a little better. You may know one or two of them. I do. And it’s not like they have everything figured out, they’ve got their own problems. And I’m not saying they are or know life any better than your or I do. They just know a few tricks…