Monday, May 21, 2012

Trip: Preface

TODAY

Oh! kangaroos, sequins, chocolate sodas!
You really are beautiful! Pearls,
harmonicas, jujubes, aspirins! All
the stuff they've always talked about

still makes a poem a surprise!
These things are with us every day
even on beachheads and biers. They
do have meaning. They're strong as rocks.

Frank O'Hara, 1950

For the duration of our trip, a time period approaching 35 days in reality; though at times it felt infinite like 10 p.m. sunsets in beautiful Rheinland, and painfully short while sitting in the molded-plastic airport terminal chairs that fail to conform to any part of the human body; for the duration, one thought kept returning to my head, a thought that I last felt strongly when I traveled out West in August of 2011.

"Oh wow...we are all alive in this one place...this is most fantastic." I am in this place, at a specific pin-prick in time, a feeling that should not go unnoticed, yet one that spirals away down the drain of passing weeks, no matter how hard you pull at the slippery tendrils of thought. And yet, it was a good feeling each time, a warm wash of wonderment at the vastness of humanity; the transport systems that whirled us to-and-fro like seedlings; the kindness, generosity, and understanding of new & old friends.

It's possible that this powerful notion is one that is only borne of wanderlust, only chemically occurs in my insides when I am plucked from the asphalt & dusty squares of grass I usually inhabit, and via wheel and rail and wing, replanted somewhere new, somewhere my neurons can freshly process, full of new sounds (the screeeeee of tram brakes), new words (Dom, nadrazi, pannenkoeken), new smells (pungent, urine-inflected Underground stations, tidy Doner shops, hedge-lined pastures). It is possible I have trained myself to feel this way only upon escaping a self-imposed sense of normalcy; and yet, I simultaneously hope that it is & isn't, that I don't lose the sense of wonder at the world; and that I don't have to leave a place in order to feel a strange sense of life, to find, shape, and develop meaning out of the absurd chaos of humanity, to not lose anything in returning. To be changed, and to propagate further change.

"They do have meaning. They're strong as rocks."


In front of a windmill, Apr. 1, Mainz.

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