I have been traveling a lot lately, circling around the globe, propelled by the requirements of my job. I have been to Iceland (okay, that was a vacation) and Switzerland; my body is still recovering from Geneva time. It is by no means over: in several weeks’ time, a plane will carry me to Denmark; then another, to my parents’ home in Central Asia; then another, to India, where I am scheduled to plant a tree at an old friend’s wedding somewhere in the Himalayas. Then back to New York.
Traveling is wonderful and I have absolutely no complaints about it except one: I can’t write when I travel. I get tired, cranky and red-eyed; I shuffle through my days and actually fall asleep at meetings sometimes. Once, in Geneva, I forced myself to sit down and squeeze out a page of half-delirious prose. It said, inter alia:
“Asdis took the powder off the shelf. The package said: ‘Instant doctor. Just add water.’ Every time she swallowed, sandpaper brushed against the back of her throat.
This is just what I need, she thought.
Back home, she poured a glass of water over the powder, sat back and observed an elderly physician take shape before her out of the billowing white smoke.”
Asdis is an Icelandic name. Later in the story, she is supposed to climb Mount Hekla, for a purpose I have yet to invent. The story will feature bogus allusions to Halldór Laxness and comment on the illusory nature of reality, I think.
The nice part of travel always is coming back to Lanie. After not having seen her for two weeks, I lurk in our apartment waiting for her and struggling to stay awake. I jump her the minute she comes back from the hospital. We are both sleep-deprived but in the middle of sex, even the smallest symptoms of sleepiness disappear without a trace, as I note in passing, with wonder, before surrendering my attention only to the most immediate things.
Afterwards she asks me why I love her. I think about it for a minute and then announce that it’s probably because she amuses me. She scowls with mock indignation.
“Amuse you?” she says. “How’s that?”
“You’re like one of those turtles,” I say, still high and silly from the moments before. “You go around bumping into things, looking around with your beady eyes, all strange and incomprehensible. And I look at you, and I just want to pick you up and say: ‘What goes on in this tiny little head?’”
“Thanks,” she says, and punches me in the shoulder, and we laugh.