Better to make this journey back to what you had first intended, rather than to die of disillusion.
-Jean Varda, letter to Anais Nin
The trip back is always of concrete and hills, fences and barking snarling tiny dogs. I had not yet learned to be full of the palm trees and words later to be scrawled out under the setting sun with strong tea and piles of books. It’s always like this - choosing what to expose yourself to.
Up near the turn for my road there is something akin to a throbbing light. Every night, the same. Each time I stop and gaze out at them, so alien and full of life in the barren light. Depending on the time and the day, there will be several or just one or two. At dawn the prettiest with eyes of the hardened barren mountains behind them. Now, past two am means they’re from further south. I cycle on past them, past everything and laugh, missing my road again. Always.
I turn back and without warning a police car swerves and heads down the wrong way of a four lane road and moves on into the cycle path, signalling for me to stop.
‘You, you just turned around’, an officer says, staring at me stalely, broken out with fatigue and bloodshot eyes.
‘Yes, I did, this is true’.
‘Identificación’, he says, stepping out of his car.
I laugh. It comes out of my throat, thick like a duck call.
‘You don’t have any?’
‘For turning round on my bicycle?’
They look at the two women trembling across the road in short skirts and high boots, born to the mouth of the sun. I hadn’t spoken to anyone for a while and was happy for the exchange.
‘What are you doing here at this time of night?’
I think. Breaths come on out of me floating on up into the sky.
‘I’ve been cycling your fair city looking for tremendous life. All night. I search on and on. I would light a fire to all my notebooks one of these nights if I couldn’t find it. Isolation has swallowed me, you know, even if I know it’s just for some days and soon the nights will grow on their own and I will find flamenco and good and warm things will find their way to me too. But I don’t have patience in these days. I arrived in a dream, in a mirage of all that I wanted years ago and I cannot write, I cannot talk - I’m like a mute hummingbird in the desert - even if I found my voice again - who would it be for? The taste of things I cannot share..’
’Señor, identificación. You must tell me why you’re here’
‘To be honest, a better question would be to ask this of yourselves, amigos. If your job is to stop a singing young man in the middle of the night who is about to return back to a warm bed and vivid wild dreams, then ask this question of yourself. Why are you wearing these uniforms, chicos?’
Their guns dangle from their groins. They look at me, astonished and to my disappointment I understand that they do not. The questioning man retreats to his car shaking his head and they pull off into the night.
‘Hola bello’, comes a voice from across the street.
I return to the orange trees and push them whole down my throat - enough to collapse with exhaustion, to cease these restless days. Happiness coming in shoots and moments of returning warmth. O’, let them get to me before the ruins!