Cormac woke up at 530, packed, and headed downstairs, leaving before I got my act together. I walked out the door of the auberge at around 6:30. As I rounded the corner to the camino, there were four guys singing merrily in Spanish. It was Sunday morning, so I thought maybe it had some religious significance. Later I found out that these gentlemen gathered there to serenade pilgrims, on their way to Santiago.
As I walked through town, I followed the scallop shells embedded in the street and the yellow spray painted arrows on the walls along the way. There always seems to be one there when you have a question of which way to go. There seems to be one rule in Spain: don’t fuck with the camino (well, maybe there are more rules, but I’m not privy to them).
If this was America, there would be arrows of all colors pointing in different directions. People would do it just to fuck with you. Maybe because god has a little less relevance in a place where money is god. So I’m hoping that in Spain no one fucks with the camino because they still have a modicum of respect for whatever god is to them, and for the pilgrims that are just trying to put one foot in front of another, and maybe learn a little something about the world, and themselves.
Not to far out of town was the wine fountain. Yes, free wine! I stopped for a sip and a few photo opportunities. After leaving (begrudgingly!) the path climbed a bit. It was cool, there was an ancient stone wall to my left, and a hedge row to my right. Beyond that were vineyards. I kept moving, there were some hills ahead, not too steep.
After a mile I entered sort of a forest of deciduous trees. The path was easy, 10 feet wide. I came across a village where I had a ham and cheese croissant, fresh squeezed orange juice, and an espresso. I walked out of town and headed down into the wide valley of rolling hills and wheat fields.
I walked for awhile with Ciara, a young Italian girl who was traveling with her 3 friends. It was getting hotter. Ciara told me that she was on the camino to make a new start. She didn’t get into details but seemed a little sad for a moment. I told her I was making a new beginning too, difference was she had her whole life in front of her. She laughed, and agreed that life could be worse.
After that i was walking alone for a good while, thought I might catch Cormac. At the very least I thought I might meet up with him at the end of the day. It didn’t matter, I was perfectly fine alone, in fact at times I prefer it. It made me think about Amanda and I, and relationships in general. I guess if you have a healthy relationship, both parties should be OK to be alone, knowing the other party is there for them.
Part of the reason you’re with them is simply that it’s more fun. It’s more enjoyable to experience life with someone. And if you’re paying attention, you can learn things from the other, and those experiences. Unfortunately, as you get older things get more complicated, you’re fragile because you’ve been hurt, so your guard is up. You think too much about why you shouldn’t…Maybe the idea is to just fuck all that, stop thinking too much. If you really love someone, just be with them. You’ll figure the rest of it out.
I passed Pasquel the laughing Belgian. We exchanged greetings and I forged on. I was now in the last stretch, and it was getting hot. I rounded a bend and ran straight into…Kento, sitting on the side of the road having a smoke. I still hadn’t seen him walking. I mean someone could have dropped him off. I had seen a horse cart a little earlier, transporting a few people. I’m still not sure if he’s actually walking the camino or if he’s being helicoptered into different points along the way. We exchanged greetings, I put on my headphones and heard a song that reminded me of Amanda.
Something there is about you that strikes a match in me
Is it the way your body moves or is it the way your hair blows free?
Or is it because you remind me of something that used to be?
Something that’s crossed over from another century? -Bob Dylan
Finally I could see the small town I was to stay at for the night. It got hotter. Only thing was it didn’t seem the town was getting any closer. It just kept getting hotter, and my two blisters were killing me. I caught up with a French girl I had been walking with here and there during the day. We trudged up the hill to Sansol and went to the auberge there.
I went over to the market and ran into Cormac. We decided to go the extra mile (literally) to Torres del Rio. We made the right call. The auberge had a swimming pool, mostly younger kids, and a few fellow pilgrims. We checked in, put our packs down in the room, and headed down to the pool. Hey- Pilgrims deserve a cold beer and a pool party once in awhile.
As the years flew by, I guess I was always searching. But not growing up too much. Looking back, I guess I’ve always felt like somewhat of an outsider due to, will, I’m really not sure. I mean I had a clique, but no real sense of belonging. My friends and I were thrown together because we had nothing to belong to. Rag tag, piece meal….
Back to relationships. I always just fell into them, I was always just fumbling along. I never really thought any woman would be interested in me (residual effects from my youth). When it happened it was usually at a party. Although I met Amanda at a party, but by that time I was older. It was different. I wasn’t drunk, didn’t even want to be there, and only asked her out at the last minute. I just wasn’t looking.
Does anyone really know what love is anyway? I’ve been through a lot. Maybe I wasted my time. On the other hand, If it wasn’t for everything I’ve been through, I wouldn’t have met someone who I cared for deeply, and who has taught me so many lessons I need to learn. Whether she knows it or not.
Something there is about you that moves with style and grace
I was in a whirlwind, now I am in some better place
My hand’s on the sabre and you’ve picked up on the baton
Something there is about you that I can’t quite put my finger on. -Bob Dylan
The first weeks and then, month or two with Amanda were heady. There was so much we were finding in each other that we had been missing. We clung to each other. We kept in touch, knowing what the other was doing practically every moment of the day via text, calls. We talked at night about everything, her kids, life in general, ourselves. It felt like how life was supposed to be. I loved every moment of it. I especially loved being loved again, having someone to hold, to make love to, knowing she was out there.
I guess that’s when we became sort of codependent. And it makes sense. When you’ve been hurt by others and you find someone who needs to be held, to be loved as much as you do, you hold on for dear life. At that point in time I had no idea that I was becoming so dependent on her, and that it would take a slap in the face from the hand of god to make her turn away from me, and push me out to the camino.
Did you know that you smile when you sleep , your eyes closed looking at the heavens? A smile that knowingly embraces it all, soft breaths accepting the night. You could never know how much others look to you- they know you know. But sometimes, the clear, lovely wisdom I see is blotted out by their hurt, fear, and rage. Don’t worry- they’ll understand as you dance through the moments of the day and quietly show them your grace. Maybe you know all this. But you don’t know that when you turn towards me and lay your head on my shoulder, I can feel that smile- baiting me, daring me to smile too.
Mark- loving your journey! Thank you for sharing the raw-ness of what it is for you!! Keep it up!! And enjoy!!