The day opened with the sudden and decidedly unexpected decision that no, I was never gonna travel the world alone.
Thinking something of that sort is just so unlike me.
Yet I must admit that it was a liberating thought.
Saying no means doing nothing and stop worrying about the outcome ‘cause there will be no outcome in the first place.
I know that this is a puerile logic but it worked out for a few seconds. A few seconds where I could breathe free from the unrelenting anxiety of wasting my juvenile time and energy. Am I dissipating all my possibilities without even knowing it? Time goes by and I feel like I’m lost in this fog of selves I wanted to be and never did.
The day was closing and the effects of that first thought were thinning out. I started losing my grip on reality.
Sara you’re 26 and you’ve accomplished nothing. You’ve traveled many times and many places and never seized any opportunities. You’ve rejected love as a poisonous snake. You’ve learnt a language just to forget it soon afterwards. You don’t know what to do next because you don’t know what you wanna become. Your mother’s right, you’re just a naïve dreamer.
You lived in Tokyo one year, was it just a dream?
Thinking about Tokyo always astonishes me. Have I really lived there? The line between past and present is a blurred one. I know I have lived there but now I feel like I’ve been molding my past into my present (moody) situation. The result is that the contours of everything I have experienced have faded into a dreamy haze.
Sometimes I get this painful and crystal clear flashbacks of me walking the streets of that city. I know I’m physically not there anymore, that I’m, say, studying in my room, but it just feels more real that flashback than reality. I think of the person I was for that one year. Maybe that self had an expiring date that I didn’t know about because none of that person resembles me now.
I was getting really depressed and pissed off at myself.
The universe must have sensed that as I started going in circles (literally) and couldn’t find the way for the metro (weird!). Also, I was trying to buy the ticket for the metro at the ticket machine and it wouldn’t come out.
“Perfect!” I thought.
The girl who was queuing behind me asked me to help her buy her ticket.
Once hers came out, mine came out too.
We then passed through the turnstiles while she was asking me for directions.
We were both on the escalator and started chatting. Where are you from and stuff like that.
She was from Australia and she was traveling the world alone.
(the universe always tests me in predictable ways)
It was not her first time. She wouldn’t tell me exactly where she had been. Too many places to name in the precious moments of a brief encounter with a perfect stranger.
She told me the story of a guy she had met in Argentina who had run away from mobsters whom he had unintentionally robbed of their garden gnomes.
I found it funny and worth of a short story.
I told her I’ve lived in Japan. She says she has never been there but plans to.
Basically she’s constantly travelling. She just goes back home for like three months, find a job and earn money for the next travel.
When she heard I study Japanese and lived in Japan she opened her backpack and showed me the book she was reading.
“Dance Dance Dance” by Murakami Haruki
I told her it’s a weird book but in a good way. She said she understood what I meant. She said she also got the gist of the book: whatever happens just keep dancing.
I didn’t really remember if that is what the book is about so said nothing. But then added: “just like you kinda keep dancing! You keep travelling!”.
She smiled and seemed happy of my conclusion.
I was curious. I told her I’ve always wanted to do what she was doing but wasn’t brave enough. I told her I thought that the first step was the hardest. She said yes, it was hard for her but didn’t seem so to me.
What I mean is that the way she said that… kind of made me feel that it was not as hard for her as would be for me. It seemed easier for her anyways. Maybe it’s because she’s from Australia, I wondered not caring to give an explanation to that silly thought.
We got on the train. I began saying so many things. About my solo travel in Taiwan. About how it’s easier making friends when you’re alone. About the fact that the metro was yellow and I liked it cause it makes me feel happy.
I had raided all my conversation stockpile. I didn’t know what to say next so I shook her hand and told her my name is Sara.
My name is Sophie she told me in response.
Sophie? I said. Such a nice name.
Such I coincidence, too. I loved the fact that her name means “knowledge” but I kept this as a private thought and didn’t tell her.
It would have been too difficult to explain and she was getting off next. Too many things to explain in the precious moments of a brief encounter with a perfect stranger. Plus, I’ve told her already too much and didn’t wanna sound boring.
Sophie got off. We said goodbye! and waved hands and we send each other a kiss with the hand.
The day closed with the sudden and unexpected decision to let everyone and everything in in my life.
The liberating but puerile thought of the morning gave way to something different. I didn’t go in circles anymore as I sensed that, for that day, the circle closed perfectly.
Was she real? I mean, I know she was but now she also seems a parenthesis opened and closed in the time of a question and its answer.