September 21st, 2013

Charah coffee

Taking Europe by storm

We crossed France, Germany, Austria, Slovenia and half of Croatia in two days on his Audi. Total number of border controls passed: one. Total number of stamps I got on my passport: zero.

I feel like life is a bit like the changing landscape from Germany, to Austria, to Slovenia, and then to Croatia. The majestic mountain ranges, surrounded by the Alps, serenely flattened into low-lying trees and shrubs; the rich greenery of the Austrian pastoral fields upon which cows lazily laid gradually transformed into the regal golden brown of the Croatian plains. After the breath-taking views of the mountains, what Croatia offered in terms of sight-seeing on the European motorway seemed awfully dull in comparison; and life is a bit like that. It's gasping in awe at the sheer richness and beauty of life in a single moment, then falling back to the same ennui that characterises most of life in a nutshell - the status quo.

Yet, we live for these singular moments. Yesterday, he said to me, "You will remember this moment right? The moment when you hit 210km/h on the Autobahn with your French boyfriend." That moment sped past me and I barely felt it; but today, speeding down the near-empty Croatian motorway from Slovenia, passing the exits to Zagreb and Split and finally turning out into Makarska, he replicated that moment on the Autobahn over and over. This was his freedom, speed was his life; he said, "This is so addictive."

I could experience it only vicariously and I was almost jealous of him at one point when I remembered what it felt like to race down an empty road, then imagining the sensation of sheer freedom that he felt after multiplying what I remembered by two. It was not as good as the real thing, but it was real enough nonetheless. That singular moment on the Autobahn, lasting no more than two minutes, stretched itself out over the precise distance of the motorway that we covered; at one point, I fell asleep next to him because it began to feel normal after some time.

There is a certain sense of unbridled freedom in all of this - driving as fast as you can and going to new cities and towns with no set plan. Our tentative plan to find a hostel in Munich was thwarted by Oktoberfest which saw hotels charging exorbitant rates for rooms, so we drove to a nearby town (Rosenheim) and spent the night in a classy classic Bavarian hotel. We arrived in Ljubljana with no real plan to see any sights, but I insisted that we went to the castle and it turned out to be incredible, offering both a slice of medieval history and a top view of the sprawling city life below us. If life is principally a continuous flatline with sporadic spikes of activity as I am convinced that it is, then the past two days have shown me another side of freedom, all the while reminding me of the things that make life worth living.

I have not felt this alive in a while; and I could not think of a better person to share it with. His sweetness is confounding: he brought a blanket and some pillows from his house so that I could sleep comfortably in the car after getting next to no sleep on the overnight cross Channel ferry; yesterday, after he pulled into the hotel in Rosenheim, he said, "I'm sorry I made you suffer"; and he drives for 6 hours straight with no complaints while all I do is sit in the car, take pictures, hand him things on occasion, and sleep.

I feel so damn lucky right now.


This lack of direction in my life is pretty frightening. It seems next to impossible to get a job in London. It also looks like I still want to write; it's quite honestly the only thing that consistently makes me feel alive.

I'll try to work on something after this trip. Life is too short to spend it rooted to the same spot and repeating the same mistake over and over again.