a dangerous thing happens when solitude finds you.
when you are looking for solitude – that is one thing.
but when it comes after you, and you don’t want it…
you reflect. too much. and.
you end up on google maps. and then kayak.com. and then skyscanner.net. and then, suddenly, on a cold december night…
plane or train tickets confirmations for february appear in your inbox. but without much of the reflection that spurred you to do it.
and so this is how you end up with a layover in greece, because you forgot that 3:15 does not mean 3:15 PM, it means 3:15 AM.
but that’s completely okay – you’ve got an entire night to explore athens.
but that quick glimpse is quickly blocked – by a rain storm. a real storm, not the light stuff that you’ve gotten used to in normandie.
the camera retreats.
and when you finally arrive, it takes a moment for your eyes to adjust to the brightness. to the sun.
and the smell. the smell of lemon trees.
here you are, in tel-aviv. in israel.
you begin your day like any start in a new country: walking with no plan to just soak in everything.
as you walk through a closed market because it’s the sabbath, you wonder what you’re doing here. why israel? the same question that has been asked multiple times by different people before you left.
and you realize, even you aren’t sure why.
but you go ahead and give the first layer response – oh, to travel, to see new things, to meet new people, to try new foods, to experience a new culture, to visit the middle east… the easy answer. which reveals nothing as it can be applied anywhere.
but you do tack on a practical aspect: with an american passport, you don’t have to deal with applications, embassies, or visas. you’re also low on passport space, and this will allow you to visit non-israel friendly countries in your next passport.
then you see this house. and you stop. thinking, walking.
it doesn’t matter if you hate it or like it – your eyes are roaming left to right, top to bottom, just noticing all the small details.
apparently it’s called “the crazy house” and google is much more informative. but you do learn one thing – it’s inspired by the parisian metro entrances.
everything is linked together, isn’t it?
once you’re done staring at the crazy house, you find yourself next to some rocks. and you can’t help but think about your favorite rock climbers.
as you continue wondering about why you’re here. the second layer response would be… history. living history. with your american background, you have a skewed perspective in regards to the conflict.
it’s nothing personal. but because the american media has a habit of linking certain positive words with one side and certain negative words with another, you’re just used to having a more cheerful reaction to one and a more fearful reaction to the other.
and what is curious is that living in france, you find that it’s the opposite.
besides, things just make more sense when you can link it to your own experiences. experiences a textbook, a lecturer, or a television will never be able to give you.
oh wait, you did have a goal for today’s walk. to see the sea.
then comes the third layer response.
you wanted to make sure that you, an american with taiwanese origins living in a french dream, could handle a week in the middle east cold turkey.
no semester long course at university where you eagerly await the youtube videos your professor would play at the beginning of each class.
no patisseries or boulangeries to make you dream about puff pastries and apple tarts and chocolate eclairs.
no famous singers, famous movies, famous monuments that seduce you the way france did.
it’s important to you that you can visit a place that you have little connection to and still be capable of loving it.
you were deep in love with france months before you finally stepped foot on french soil.
the future isn’t set – in fact it is rather blurry – but israel is the perfect place for a test run for perhaps wherever you are headed next.
the fourth layer response is one you didn’t dare say to the frenchies. in fact, you needed a break from france. the reason why is that because you’re so happy there, it tends to cloud your judgment about the future. when you’re in france, you want nothing more than to stay in france.
but you’ve got projects. projects that don’t involve france. projects you want to complete. and france tempts you to abandon them. however, once all that is done, you’ll figure out how to weave her back into your life.
then comes the fifth layer response. the deepest one.
you’re searching for something. but you aren’t sure what. you can’t seem to attach words to what you’re looking for. but your eyes – and your heart – are wide open.
sometimes, one doesn’t realize why one travels to a certain location until one is physically there. all these different reasons made sense to you once you stepped off that plane from france and greece.
in fact, the more lost you are – when you don’t know the culture, the language, the people, the food, the landscape, the religion… the easier it is to find yourself.