I think it was me and Paul’s first European tour together during which he gave me a mantra, pearl, a code to live by. We were in Barcelona Airport at our second luggage carousel of the day. We had already waited lamely and vainly at one conveyor belt to no avail in Madrid, where we had spent five extra hours after missing an impossible connection. Watching the gray belt going round and round I reverted to magical thinking.
“If I walk in three circles and sing my special song, the bags, like the first snow of winter, will appear.”
“If I give up the thinking about the bags they will appear.”
“If a person in a green coat walks past me next, the bags will……”
“If I tap my cane….”
Paul clearly was becoming annoyed at my impotent alchemy, and I irritated at his lack of faith in the power of transatlantic hoodoo. So we did what everybody does with family in airports, and got snippy with each other as only one can with a much loved family member.
So now here we were in yet another city, still inhaling pre-packaged air and I resolved myself to never seeing our suitcases in this lifetime at least. Thing was I didn’t care about
the bags, I just wanted a cigarette and a shower. I was so raw with jet lag that I wanted to cry (will revisit that later, jet lag I mean, not crying). But the bags did come and this is why I’m repeating a not very interesting story. We were now elated and I related to Paul how amazing just something as simple as piece of luggage turning up can turn everything around. At it was at that moment he said one of the most significant things I ever heard:
°A victory a day keeps suicide away.”
I was astounded. I wanted it tattooed across my palms so as not to ever forget it. I was in awe. So simple, yet so richly meaningful and succinct. Screw Sartre, Socrates, Plato, Nietzsche, Spengler. Wallfisch is the man.
He’s an atheist. I’m a Believer.
He’s tall. I’m short.
He has curly hair. Mine isn’t that curly.
But regarding this basic truth I couldn’t agree with him more. Find today’s victory. All I remember about the rest of the day was a childlike glee. Did we skip down Las Ramblas singing and laughing? Maybe so. I know i was smoking.
Yesterday’s victory of the day was getting Bue’s washing machine to stop. That this miracle should take place in Torino/Turin Italy, the home of the Shroud, may or may not be coincidental: I had a shaky day. Jet lag is not cute for an insomniac. We learn to wind our days around our many sleepless nights but something like jet lag throws the whole delicate ecosystem of our pharmacology into a right mess. I loose my depth perception first, which means bumping into every table leg, chair, shelve etc, and taking endless prat-falls, usually in the presence of suspicious-eyed provincials. Then freezing in middle of the pedestrian crossing cause you don’t trust your memory enough to know for sure which way the traffic is coming. Next is the inability to make a simple decision, like whether to turn on the tap for a glass of water, waiting three weeks as ‘not worth the trouble as we’ll be home in three weeks’, but of all these things are The Existential Loneliness of the Busted Up Traveller. But more about that and the Miracle of Bue’s Washing Machine will have to wait till tomorrow as I have an early train to Basel where I am to meet Paul for the gig at The Satisfactory on Friday and it’s already 2am and I’m already all tangled up. To be continued.
What’s on the turntable today? Marvin Gaye.
What’s on the turntable of my mind? How does one MUJI-fy one’s life into neat brown cylinders and travel scissors?
Love from Torino, where we wash the shroud weekly. xo