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Monday, April 23, 2012

the need

Over the dates of 29th march to 10th of April I had a punishing schedule. I love to travel, I do but I don’t like the trip. I don’t like the long hours, the uncomfortable trains, the airplane seats and the airport lounges. I like the places not the process.

On 29th March I got on a train at 9:14 am and got off a plane 11 hours later, fresh in Poland. I hadn’t seen the church of St. Mary’s yet or the inside of a polish prison, I hadn’t drank more vodka than at any other time in the year, hadn’t met all those polish girls or seen all those polish sights and then a few days later I was going back home, scarred by experience, sobered by excess. On the 1st of April I landed back in Norway. The plane got there at 11 a.m. and I had to wait until 5:54 to get a train back home. In the morning as I waited I saw the picture of addiction. There was a mother there who needed one last smoke before she got on the plane, just one little stick, a hit of tobacco, a whiff of nicotine. She waited outside in the cold as she smoked. And it was cold, the rain came down not in torrents but European winter rain doesn’t need to insist. All it does is straddle the line between 10 degrees and 0. It waits there to pinch you awake with pinpricks of ice. Her daughter was maybe 4 years old, she could stand but she couldn’t stand the cold. She shook violently and cried her face turned red and puffy, “mama mama” I could imagine her say. But mama needed her cigarette and the half-hearted hugs the daughter got were not nearly as warm as the kiss of the fire on her mama’s lips.

I got home 8 hours later. Cooked. Slept. Went to work. Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday morning I had another train to catch this time to the airport to go to Brussels. The train was at 5:25 and we woke up late. We ran for it my roommate and I. but we were there at 5:27 I checked the time on the railway clock and it was that. However there was nothing, the train had left us behind and it dawned on us that morning that we may miss our plane to Brussels. The tickets had cost us quite a bit since it was Easter and they were much more expensive. We hang around the bus stop looking for a solution. Variously cursing and coughing with no idea what to do. Then a bus came that was going to Oslo and we jumped in. from here we missed everything by 2 minutes, got to Oslo fully 2 minutes too late to get the first train to the airport meaning with the next one were on edge until we got there on time.

Ryan air has no seating and we were so late that we couldn’t really pick a place to sit. I always sit at the back of their planes anyway. It’s less hassle on all parts. It’s close to the toilet, it’s close to the entrance, it’s close to the exit. Sometimes the front is booked for priority people and also for some reason passengers don’t like the back of planes so it saves me on so much. I plonked down next to this old Muslim woman who was sitting in the middle of a 3 person seat, my roommate forged ahead and I was so relieved to have finally sat down on the plane  I didn’t want to call to  him. So I sat on the aisle because I  use the loo a lot and I don’t like asking people to move so much.

“excuse me.” I heard. I looked up and there she was. She was beautiful. The kind of pretty that i like to call marred by intelligence. A line ran down her mouth, a thought line, as stress line am not really sure which. The kind of wrinkle that means a lot of cynical smiles have been forthcoming in her lifetime and I am a sucker for a face with cynicism. Don’t know why. So I try to get up to let her in, and the Muslim lady moves in meaning I’ll be sitting down next to this girl. I am so excited I can’t undo the seat belt. I can’t I try to stand up and am snapped back down. I sit I fumble, I hope she doesn’t move on or extrapolate this shameless display of non-dexterity to what  i could do with a bra. Finally she sits down. And she takes out a book. A book. This was one of those non wasted moments, introductions done and she’s from Romania, she’s impressed that I know Transylvania and of course as happens on these trips she’s not really a girl I have a chance of seeing again. She’s just passing through Brussels on her way to another Belgian city then back home to Bucharest.

Brussels like Poland was an orgy of drinking and partying. Not one night wasted from Wednesday to Monday  we went out. We got some beers some nights then we didn’t have any money and pretended we quit alcohol. 

On Tuesday morning we leave the final club, trek back home, one hour, get our bags and begin the trek to the place where we can get an airport shuttle. It’s a long way. It’s worse since no one in Belgium knows where anything is. It’s better since we’re not the only ones. Tourists everywhere are also looking for this place. Their suitcases running ruts in the streets of Brussels. Finally we found it. It’s an hour to the airport. For me it was a minute. I closed my eyes I opened them.

Charleroi is ridiculous for how disorganised it was. We got on the plane. I looked out for any Romanians, I saw none. Closed my eyes. We were in Norway. We had to wait 4 hours for our train. I closed my eyes, it was now forty minutes. We began talking to these Greek girls. University students leaving Oslo to go to Poland. They complained about how expensive Norway is and we nodded sagely. We told them our train was a t 1 pm. What time was their flight? 7 am. Tomorrow morning? Yes. These girls were going to sleep in the airport and continue their journey the next day. European girls are so gangster.

Eventually we said goodbye after a promise to visit Greece of course. We got on the train and I slept. We got off the train at Oslo to take one to Kristiansand and I slept. I slept till 6. I woke up I peed. I slept. All  i did was sleep. For if this post is anything it’s a chronicle of lack of sleep. It documents nearly two weeks of only sleeping when the sun was out. Only sleeping on trains and planes and airport panes. I got home and slept but not really there was work the next day.

All through the day I was a zombie I couldn’t imagine why I wasn’t sleeping, it was all I wanted to do. All I wanted to do. Got home at 5 pm and slept. Slept, slept, slept. Got up for food and slept. Then I slept and slept and slept...


  1. " I plonked down next to this old Muslim woman"

    As contrasted with the would-be-just-as-equally-vexatious use of religion as description in: "I plonked down next to this young Christian guy"

    1. yer, point taken but the thing is many old muslims wear their relligion on their sleeve or on their forehead and you could never tell someone is christian cos they wore a crucifix, but a hijab usually says muslim