I will never let anything ruin my love for traveling.
I will never let anything ruin my love for traveling.
between holding a hand and chaining a soul
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning and company doesn’t mean security. And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts and presents aren’t promises, and you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes open, with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child, and you learn to build all your roads on today because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans, and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight. After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much. So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers. And you learn that you really can endure that you really are strong and you really do have worth and you learn and learn, with every goodbye you learn.
It’s so difficult to find a moment of peace when traveling with family.
I would, but every second feels like being I’m being gutted alive.
Would I want to explain
but my tongue remains powerless
for now do I clearly see
to be spurned is my lot.
It wasn’t a smooth flight but it got us there
It was already dark when we hopped on the express train from Kansai to Kyoto, I haven’t eaten all day but I’ll be damned if I let a little ulcer mess with our trip - my friend Jen and I, we’ve more than earned these four days of freedom. I can’t wait.
We set out for dinner after finding our machiya, drank our combini-bought beer in a park bench in Sanjodori. We petted the cats there, they were warm and friendly, a stark contrast to the cold which had us running back to the guesthouse at two in the morning.
I still can’t believe it, we’re finally in Kyoto, it seemed unreal and that was exactly what I needed.
Off and away
to Koyasan, armed with nothing but a train schedule and GPS, hopping on god knows how many trains, watching the cityscape fly by, like someone hit the rewind button back to a time when roads stretched thinner and trees stood taller, houses donned the same quaint rooftops and temples were built a stone’sthrow away from the next.
So rewinding to a few decades back, past a thousand train stops and one hair-raising cable car ride later, we finally find Ekoin. It was the shukubo that Jen picked, it was spacious and overrun by cute young monks, with windows that opened to a little garden in the very middle. And, despite the fact that it was missing private baths (oh buddha help us) it was perfect - set a few steps away from Okunoin, the largest cemetery in Japan. After dinner we braved the dark graveyard for a good couple of minutes until it got too cold and too eerie, as the stone lanterns that lit the cobblestone path grew more and more faint the more we walked further in.
We turned back to look for beer to warm us up, breaths misting in the cold and fingers frozen numb. The only visible lights on the streets were from a few unmanned stores and the occasional vending machine. Thank buddha one of them had liquor, tall beer cans with autumn leaves on it, and little jars of their local saké. It was wonderful - smooth and light with a full flavor, and before we knew it we’re knocked out on the futons and I’d forgotten to change out of my yukata.
It’s been a long day, most of it spent on the road, chasing trains and walking around - I should’ve been exhausted, we had every reason to be. But it felt too wonderful to be away from it all - it’s Jen’s birthday today, but truth is I haven’t been this happy in a while, it might as well’ve been mine, too.
Okunoin had two faces -
after dark the graveyard is chilly and haunting, but come sunrise, it takes your breath away - the first streaks of sunlight peeking through cedar trees, those towering things that loomed over the endless rows of stone graves - it’s as if time stopped in this hidden corner of the world. I knew then why Jen had wanted to see it - there are few things in the world as calming as being here.
We stopped by a small café with handmade coffee, eclectic music and artisan cups, run by a retired traveller who speaks 3 languages. We sip coffee and I let myself envy his life a little bit, before we head back to Kyoto.
Later that night we found Issian in Pontocho, which served delicious yakiniku straight out of the stone grill. After three bamboo sakes, a few nama beers, conversations with Lisa the cook, a chef left in disbelief at how much two girls can drink and one hipster bar I barely remember, we made our way back to Nijo - during then we were too drunk to realize the absurdity of walking that distance. The locals paraded by, clad in their halloween costumes as we stumbled our way back to our machiya, piss ass drunk.
But before that, our chef in Issian will turn down the lights, Lisa will light a candle on the stone grill, and everyone in the room will stop to sing and wish Jen a happy birthday. It was quite a sight.
Japan is beyond amazing just like it’s people - back in the train from Koyasan when the little girl had called me onee-chan my heart was instant putty.
You’ve traveled so many miles to be away, only to find yourself welcomed by strangers, and suddenly the word home takes on a completely different meaning.
Of course it had to rain,
it’s our last day in Kyoto after all, and what’s a heartbreak without the waterworks?
We’re off to Kiyomizudera, rain and hangovers withstanding. We walked for a bit in Sanjusangendo, saw the kannon statues and wrote our prayers on the ema plates.
It was a beautiful afternoon in Kyoto and the rain had finally stilled. We stop by a little café for some ramen, warm matcha and kakigori. I really wish we didn’t have to go back today, there was so much I still wanted to do and see, so I scheme for a bit and drag Jen into random shops to delay going back for a while, because I sure as hell am not in a hurry to leave.
I looked out the window on the express train taking us back to Kansai, just as we were about to leave. Outside, there sat four old men on the park bench, waving goodbye to our train. I think for the hundredth time that day, my heart broke again.
My friend Jen, she thanked me for being crazy enough to hop on a plane just to drink the weekend away, but all I can think is that I’d be crazy not to.
Kochira koso, like the Japanese would say, no, the pleasure is all mine.
and the sun rises on another heartbreak.
I hardly remember florence - I have fragments of it, like the ball of lint-paper that came out of the wash from forgetting to empty my pockets - I am holding on to it, but I can’t make out what it is.
I live for evenings when the crowds have gone and the streets are hushed and the city stripped down to just a few local pubs. They’re all that’s left at this hour, and(thankfully) they’re not that hard to find - from a block away you can make out the unmistakable cursing, “Vaffanculo!” Damn these Italians and how even their filthiest words can work up my appetite.
On the bar I’d sit in the most inconspicuous corner so I can watch from afar what the locals are having and then order them from myself. Tonight it’s beer from the tap and a modest panini.
I’m thousands of miles away from where I’d rather be, but the thought that I’ll never sit in this bar again, never set foot on this city again, never speakbroken english with these strangers again reassures me a little bit.
It’s a beautiful night and it’sonly begun. Ciao, we exchange niceties — how fitting is it that they say hello the same way they say goodbye?
And in the morning I’m piss ass drunk and I sneak back into the hotel, trying not to wake my room mate.
We are leaving for Paris in a few hours.
how many times do i have to say
to get away, get gone
how many times can it escalate
till it elevates to a place i can’t breathe?
in florence i met an amazing violinist - it’s past midnight on an abandoned street curb but she played without a care in the world.