Saturday, December 26, 2015

Mike Welch Comes Home

Day 14

I am exhausted. I was able to get Netflix streaming on my Kindle last night, and watched Sherlock. It was the best part of my day, being so tired. I have been walking the city today for what seems like hours. I don’t want to sit down for some reason. I would feel like a loiterer. Finally, I have a beer at a sidewalk cafĂ©, and converse with a Norwegian business woman about this and that. There is no romance in the air, and I am sad. Vienna by yourself can be a downer, even in November.

In another bar, a guy and his wife are eyeing me. For a threesome? He seems effete, a fop, wearing a too fey scarf ascot thing, and she has on a leather skirt and sexy stockings she should have stopped wearing 20 years ago. Finally, he comes over and explains he manufactures little writers’ notebooks like the one I am writing in. He gives me one.

Day 15

On the train back, I get a Polish girl in my compartment whom I find eyeing me suspiciously every time I look up. I wish I knew how to say I am not a pervert or a rapist on Polish, but I don’t. Weird dreams, even without the Slavic political arguments, and then we are back in Katowice. 5 am I get off the train, and take a wrong turn and end up in the red light district. People are still drinking, and one vomits in the street outside a club named Sex. Now that is creative. Somehow I get back on a street I recognize, and make it back to the hotel. If you lug a back pack a long way, you get sore in weird places, in your hips, feet and shoulders. And if you walk around in sweaty clothes you get chafed in some surprising spots too.

Spent the whole day in my room. Everyone else is in Warsaw at some Chopin concert. I have to admit to myself I think it is pretty cool I went off by myself like that. I know, I know, it wasn’t like I went into the Heart of Darkness or anything, or like I survived in the jungle with a compass and a Swiss army knife, but I did it. Have to go back to normal life tomorrow. Another eight hours crammed into a seat made for a human half my size. And I will have to make my own meals again. No room service, waiters, tour guides—I’ll have to guide myself through life again. This has been fun—I don’t know if any great lessons have been learned, but fun. I do see that there are other ways to live. More economical and ecologically minded, more thoughtful and slower-paced, with more of an emphasis on beauty. And maybe less assurance of our very rightness in the world. They say that a journey without is also a journey within. I don’t know, that is kind of a clichĂ©, but I did learn that I have a taste for travel, and that I enjoyed the quirky comfort of my companions more than I thought I would. Maybe when I retire I will do more of this kind of thing, but like a Hobbit, I think I am going to enjoy the little comforts of my hidey-hole of a home when I get back.

Today, Lufthansa went on strike. I am glad. I don’t want to go home. I like being a stranger in a strange land, and I like being part of this merry band of weird pilgrims. At home, I will be back to the old grindstone, and being ground down with the loneliness of being a 53 year old bachelor. I know, there are a lot worse things, but still, it sucks.

Been back at work for two days now, exaggerating my adventures. It has been fun having people ask me about them. Like it has been fun writing for this blog. Life does indeed move on, both when we want it to and when we don’t.

© 2015 Mike Welch

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