I Wanted to Write About…

I wanted to write about my journey through Vilnius and Poland to Berlin, but I can’t.

I wanted this journey to be an exploration of new ways of travelling, but instead I understood how difficult it was for me to free myself of my habits.

A döner was the only thing I ate yesterday. It is coffee and cigarettes that sustain me when I travel. But I am not hungry. Not even weak. I began my day at 8, and I walked through Friedrichstadt, Museum Island, Spandauer Vorstadt, Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain and SO 36 without having eaten anything.

Apelsin. Need to come back to this café. Haven’t eaten anything fresh for days. I go to another café, find a place where to charge my phone, order my regular double espresso and still water with ice and lemon, and try to listen to the conversation between a woman and a man who seems to be in paternity leave. The man lets the woman pay for him. I pay for myself, leave, go back to the apelsin place but walk on because a man in front of me enters it and makes me hesitate.

I like it when they put three slices of lemon in my water. When they put two or four, I imagine how they cut the slice in half, and this is not interesting. When they put three, it is more complicated. It indicates that they have taken extra care.

Duras

Vandré

‘Auf ‘m Bahnhof Zoo’

Dried plums with stones from Lithuania

Grateful that I have friends whom I can send an SMS when passing through their city. That I have friends who are willing to come to another city, to another country even, just to meet me.

Proustian impressions are vivid only when they occur once or twice. If I try to manipulate them and go for a nightly promenade in a city where there is a river just because I vividly remember another walk along the river I once had in another city, I lose it.

In Paris, all my impressions were alive. They didn’t act as signs behind which a universal meaning hides itself, but they were all connected to each other and to my general aesthetic, emotional and intellectual disposition. This time I can easily omit most of them from the writing because they convey nothing of me and of the places where I was. Or they are the noise that could only support what there is really to write about. Or I simply don’t want to write about them because I have already talked about them. And because I have talked about them, because they have found their home, in the situation where I talked about them and with the people who I told about them, writing about them would be a threefold betrayal.

Or is it simply because I cannot write about them? That the skills and the material that I have do not support the way of writing that I think is appropriate for this trip. An impression-based travelogue should be written in the present tense, in a fragmentary form, but even when I take the journey itself as the centre of my writing – and not the destination – I cannot be truthful because my mindset was completely different […]. When I read the texts I wrote after my trips to the United States and to Serbia, I think I was insincere. The essay form would be even bigger a failure: when filling the gaps between the descriptions of impressions, which would still be the basic block stones of the writing, vain exaggerations and fast conclusions are easy to come. I want the impressions to remain pure, to be the only point of departure, to be real, not fictional. But I hate chaos in literature.

And I still feel I need to write. I always say that my trips never begin and end at the airport, that is it necessary for me to prepare for them and to take time afterwards to formulate in words what exactly happened.

 

It was very important for me to finish this text because during my trip to Berlin I thought I had discovered something new about myself. But the form that I used in my text about Paris and that I wanted to adopt here did not correspond to the disorderly nature of that trip. Around half a year later, in autumn 2013, I gave up. There were many impressions and experiences that I cherished, that wanted to write about. I have forgotten most of them. I edited the text in July 2015. 

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