The train was to leave Berlin appallingly early. Having confused the German words for Saturday and Sunday in sleepy delirium, I missed the bus to the station. Sitting against a wall on the deserted street corner, my skin blooming with hives, I breathed deeply, clutching the fingers of my left hand in time with each round.
I am, in the purest sense, a lunatic... Given the ancient mythological connection between the menstrual cycle and the moon, I can think of no better word to describe the lurching fear in my stomach as I lie by the pool on the first day of my holiday.
“In the mountains of San Gabriel, overlooking the lowland vines and fruit groves, Mother Nature is most ruggedly, thornily savage.” – John Muir
A failed rock star first made me really think about them. Until then, they’d just been there, a looming wall of jagged green blocking off the skyline to the north. Silent and a little foreboding, preventing the city’s careless sprawl from creeping any further.
You look out over the island from the top of a cypress-scattered hill, surrounded on every side by crystal blue: an expensive diamond moat, cut especially for you. Your dusty feet dangle off the deckchair in the shade of your bell tent, its khaki canvas swaying in the breeze, a twisted rope of healing crystals hanging gracefully in the doorway.
If you have the patience, you can find almost anything on the market floor at Souk al-Ahad. Hiding beneath pink plastic pianos, among stuffed Hello Kitties, giant soup ladles and mountains of miscellaneous clothing, fading lives are scattered like dice.
Empathy: the intangible architecture that supports our deepest connections; the unseen building blocks that help us to understand the needs, perspectives and motives of others; the ticket for a society racked with hate?
“Are you going to experience Resort Cuba or the Real Cuba?” my friend asked me as I prepared to leave Canada for Havana. “Or the Actual Cuba?” she added, neatly encapsulating the traveller vs tourist debate.
On the east side of Humayun’s tomb, a young European woman in leggings and a black sports t-shirt positions herself so that she is perfectly framed by the 16th century arch behind her. She fixes her hair, lies down on the ground and pushes up into a yoga pose.
Anne Carson once wrote that in order to survive, you needed an edge; in this age, I suspect that a blade might be better. Reading the year’s new clatch of stories about the “real” Gone Girl ... I found myself wishing that men who turned out to be killers and mass manipulators were rare enough that a story about the “real” Gone Guy would catch on.