April 16th – April 30th, 2017
Today was cheat day, so I ate ten slices of toast, five chocolate bars, one big easter egg, a bunch of small chocolates, a slice of apple tart, a slice of banoffee pie, a ham and cheese sandwich with mayonnaise, a handful of crisps, all washed down with several cups of tea. Feels good to indulge with no limits every so often. And now, I don’t want to see any crappy food for at least a week.
Reunion with some folks I used to work with in a department store fifteen years ago. That was a different track I was on back then, before I took life by the horns. I remember being in that job and envisioning myself at sixty if I didn’t make some changes, take some chances. Many people would have been content with that vision, they wouldn’t have changed a thing. Not me. I knew it wouldn’t be enough. Sitting here today, I’m very glad I made those changes, took those chances.
Driving back from Cork, about midnight now and barely a car on the road, singing aloud to Muse and Frank Sinatra to stay awake. Almost forty people showed up for my talk this eve, had to change venue last minute to accommodate them all. They seemed engaged, interested, stayed for the duration. More of this is in order.
That image of her as I closed the door to her room this evening, sitting on the bed, her back to us. “Thanks for coming. Bye bye.” She’s happy and comfortable there, knows she can’t live at home anymore. But it’s still sad, seeing her mental and physical health deteriorate. Her husband, my grandfather, died thirty years ago, but at least he went suddenly in his sleep. Let’s hope we get the best of both, that we live long and die fast.
Here’s something I like to believe, even though it’s (probably) not true: that reincarnation is real and each time around you get to choose your experience. So everything that happens to me in this life, my wiser, timeless self asked for exactly that, knew it would be worthwhile for me somehow. The highs and the lows, the ebbs and the flows. I wanted it all.
Out wandering the fields for a few hours this afternoon, across clay and crop and grass, over ditches and through woodland, seeing cows and horses, bees and bluebells, roaming the ruins of houses and barns where once there was life and love and big wheels carved by hand from the hillside. But now it’s all gone and long forgotten.
“I was in Vietnam once,” he says. Oh cool, me too. When were you there? “Nineteen sixty-seven.” During the war? “Yeah, I was there for two weeks, got shipped out because they put a bullet in me, went in this side” – he points to his waist – “and out the other. Lucky to be alive.” Wow. That’s incredible. My experience there was a bit different.
Missing that girl. Maybe too much. Don’t want to get all hyped up to see her, as if Wednesday will come and we’ll meet in Moscow and all will be right with the world. Because she’s human and I am too and relationships are never perfect. But still, I miss her, and Wednesday can’t come fast enough. Been four weeks since we kissed goodbye in Girona.
Another talk, Waterford this time, and again almost forty people turned up. But I was sluggish for this one, felt tense, didn’t bring the same playfulness and enthusiasm to it, and the audience responded in kind. Or at least that was my impression. They still seemed interested and stuck around for the duration, but not the same positive vibes. Totally my fault that. I can do better.
I did better. Gave a talk in Dublin tonight, was a lot more revved up for it, felt much more confident. I think part of it last night was using a microphone. Not used to that, and it threw me off a bit. Something I’ll have to get comfortable with. Tonight though it was a smaller space, no mic needed. Felt that good kind of tired walking through the city after, lights shining on the Liffey.
Off the train from the airport, en route to meet that girl with the green eyes and golden smile. It’s a dark and wet evening in Moscow, muted colors, rugged streets. My luggage is still in Helsinki and my phone’s not working. I approach a security guard at the station. “Costa Coffee,” I say, with a question mark at the end. He shrugs and looks away. And I just stand there, waiting for something to happen.
I knew Moscow was expensive, but was surprised to learn that it’s the ninth most expensive city in the world. Makes sense then that I’m paying €55 per night for a shared apartment with a creaky sofa bed and an uncurtained window above a train track. I’ll be eating lots of noodles these next four weeks.
Moved to a better apartment today, a 45 minute walk through the grey and drizzle with everything I own. At one point I passed a big office building and saw all the 9-to-5ers huddled outside, on coffee and cigarette breaks, their day dictated by someone else’s clock. I checked in to my new place around the corner, got groceries nearby in a quiet supermarket, then went and had a nice nap for myself.
Approaching Red Square with the sun already down. There’s a fire burning outside the Kremlin that’s never put out. A little to the left and we see through an arch the candy-land domes of a five-hundred-year-old cathedral, behind which public executions were once held. Across from the tower there’s a stone platform known as the place of skulls. And myself and a thousand other tourists stop and smile for selfies.
Got asked in the comments if me and my girl are exclusive. I didn’t reply, because it annoyed me and I considered it disrespectful, like walking up to someone on the street and saying, “Hey, you don’t know me, but do you and your partner fuck other people?” But then I got to thinking that there must be something to the question if it bothered me so much.
In the comments below, let me know which of the above Momentos is your favorite. Which can you relate to?