21 in the Twenty-First Century.
Chapter 0: odd ends and preparations.
The day of my departure, I had awaken early, and had a big breakfast. I wouldn’t say there was anything that differentiated it from a regular day, and even if my stomach had been hollow just after the breaking of dawn, now it was so full, that there was no space for dread or that strange anticipation that the prospect of long journeys sets on. It was a waste of a day, really, to be spent outside. I felt heavy as lead, and warm inside, and the weather was chilly, and the atmosphere kind of sombre. It was this heaviness that made me not be able to escape giving my situation some thought. You see, I could see out the window, sheltered from most of the malice of the world, and I could tap my fingers on the table, tap, tap, I could wait. I could give myself just a couple of days for things to settle down. I could finish all the jelly and the things in the pantry and fridge. What harm was there really, in staying here, maybe forever, and eat all the good things, and have hearty laughs; why would you live like a bird, when trees are so happy and still, so calm and patient, always growing, always looking up with their feet on the ground? I had to go, that was the thing. I won’t tell you that I didn’t have second thoughts. I think I had thirds and fourths.
I have to go. That was my intrusive train of thought, hammering its point like a cannon-laden orchestra. I couldn’t do anything about it. The graces of the life I live are easy pickings; I have but to raise my hand slightly to grab the low-hanging fruit of a fine autumn afternoon, or a cosy rainy morning, and lose myself in thought in the mist. I enjoy the mundane, to the point of entertaining myself watching the foam dance in a stew, or curving my form to catch the thousand-finger patter of warm drops on my back in a hot shower. Why should I do this to myself, and burst this beautiful bubble? As I decided to get all ready, the thought stroked me again, I had to go. I swatted it away, I get it, I get it. With the walk of a man doing something out of onerous obligation, I dragged my feet to where I had some stuff that I could use to pack. And I sat there, preparing myself to get ready. Most scholars sustain that I went out on this very day. Other learned people think that I skipped the day of my departure and that I went out on another one. Both seem to be right. I went when I went, so there, maybe a little late or early, but after much struggle, I packed. It was a wonderful day, I have to mention, too, contractually.
I usually pack too much. My back is permanently shaped by carrying too many books in kindergarden, and my neck has done like that of the Marabou stork and droop, bested by the weigh of my worries. When I travel, I don’t want to forget anything, so I consider most things of first necessity. I don’t read on vacations, but I bring books; I never flirt, but I pack sensual underpants; I never draw or paint, but I make sure to include notebooks and some watercolor cans and pencils; I carry neck-ties, extra shoes, discretion, but I don’t use any of it. For once in my life I wanted to only bring the indispensable, and so I did.
I packed socks, some drafts, a pen, a small notebook, a moderately sized dread, a loaf of bread, some spices and cooking stuff, a Sumerian tablet, a shaving blade, a tiny fork, water, fire, a small jar of jam, a speaker, all the basics of hygiene, like smells and spells, and hair betterer, a book, a tubercle, a knife, a stuffed animal, another pair of jeans, some extra buttons, post-its, a blackthorn stick, my good underwear, my wallet, my bad underwear, my reading glasses, my seat cushion in case of long traveling on my bony end rear, my cracked phone, some chocolate, and some good wishes. Only the essentials.
I felt the carpet with my feet, flat and fabled, and gripped the ground. Was it too late, could I wait another day? Aren’t important days supposed to feel important? I started to hum under my breath as I put my bag on my shoulders, and saw my reflection. I didn’t have to go, I wanted to. The everyday life was nice, but something called me through the breeze. I listened to the running of water, the laughs, heavy footsteps, the noises of the birds, the train in the distance, the wind caressing the trees. I took everything in me, as I was going to undertake this adventure, so that I could carry the same comfort in the trying times of my journey. I kissed everyone goodbye, and stepped into the unknown with my chest brimming with warm feelings. I had had breakfast for three people, but before finally departing, I went back in and had a hot drink, so that my stomach would be warm also.