A Moveable Feast Indeed

The preparation and excitement for modern day travel drowns out the obvious noise. The  necessities and the fear gets all masked in packing and planning. It's apparent now that I had read and heard many things before going but I wasn't listening or interpreting. I had read "A Moveable Feast" many times. It was a bible of sorts to refer to when the chips were down. I never took it literally. The same goes for the act we all take for granted of charging and filling our devices. We get ready with all these seasons and playlists. We've played those songs over and over again and gotten no references. Maybe theres a time or place we go back to but nothing stands out as relevant now. The same goes for the movies, shows, games and apps that sort of blend into our lives and make days shorter. We set our iPods up for a 45 minutes commute, a road trip down 95 South or a 2 hour flight to NYC. We pack up the paperback books, manage our Amazon wish list and check the Netflix queue but there is no real intent to finish what we start. I guess all of the above are just tools of solitude. Now I wish I had considered it all apart of an unwritten guide.

I guess I just continued to overlook that blaring message each time I picked up the book. I   just felt like the entire piece as a whole was a way to disappear. My first introduction to Hemingway I went into hallucinations. I'd transcended to a different place. It never occurred to me that reading this particular collection I was sometimes standing in the same places he'd talked about. I was no longer in the confines of an apartment or in the constraints of a short lived fifteen minute break at work. The books that had leapt off the shelves at me as a child, a teenager, a wayward young adult and hungry twenty something we're all stepping stones. They allowed me to think bigger about those places and wonder what it would be like to be there. So in my mind I thought it would be best to bring these books along with me. I even ordered a few just to have fresh copies with special limited edition notes. I didn't think about myself. I only thought of her. I would allow her to read what she had made real. In the end she would be thankful and I would gift them to her. I never thought they would be prophetic.

I had drank the books and I refused to put them down. At one point in my twenties I gave up my car for the bus not only to save money but to read uninterrupted. I even created a soundtrack of soft music to tune out conversations and announcements. I then would be fully immersed in a world the book had created and the music aligned with. I remember calling it "The Magical Mystery Tour" and it was. That is what I wanted for her. "A Moveable Feast" - a collection of posthumously released short stories written during Hemingway's first marriage and time in Paris. A drunken manual for the traveler. An ode to friendship. A treasure map to what we had set out for. She read it in pieces on overnight train rides and sometimes on the beach. It took her a very long while and she didn't ask me anything about it. There was never a connection over it. She gave it back and by then I didn't even want her to have it. I felt as though she hadn't really read it and she didn't deserve it. The reality is as many copies as I now had, I should have been reading it as well. Instead I was trying to re-read "Atlas Shrugged" and start with "Capitalism" and unlike before they both bored me to tears. I preferred to focus on my music. I guess I chose to listen versus interpret. And sometimes that was just a means to an end. 

"Never go on trips with anyone you don't love- Ernest Hemingway

I didn't load up any particular soundtrack for Europe. Although it was always a thing for me to prepare a track listing for a ten minute shower or a trip to Walmart. Even before the advancements of CDs and MP3 players, I had to stop by a SamGoody on the way to the airport or at least create a mixtape for those long summer drives. I felt like taking my laptop would allow me to reference what I needed when I needed it. It didn't even occur to me how busy I may be to commit to that. A lot of times I thought all I needed was conversation and I expected us to talk. The books were just something to lug and my laptop was something firm to keep my carry-on upright while filling it. I didn't even listen to my actual iPod until midway through Spain. I only did that because we had stopped talking, I'd gotten disgusted with Ayn Rand and I needed a way out. Sadly, I listened to the entire discography of the Black Eyed Peas in Spain. I did it to spice things up and to annoy the living shit out of her. Trust that it worked. But I took silent showers, I didn't listen to my iPod walking the streets alone and I hardly downloaded anything new while in remote places. If something sparked I listened to it, but the most time I spent with music was on the train ride back to Paris. 

“This book is fiction, but there is always a chance that such a work of fiction may throw some light on what has been written as fact.” - Ernest Hemingway

Of course when alone in France I had the new Kanye and Daft Punk and it was fitting. I listened to that in my aparthotel and on the trams. When I took out my headphones it was coming from others headphones and out of store fronts anyways. Once I was completely alone it was high time to immerse myself in the media I had collected. I was sometimes fascinated at just how much stimulation I could take. Hunger, four languages at a time, announcements, iOS games, tiny bottles of wine, iMessage, The Beatles, rocky terrain, overhead movies, urgency and solitude. The books by then were all filled up with receipts, random doodles from hotel notepads, ticket stubs and pressed flowers. So recently when I traveled again by train it was no longer about the other stuff. It was purely about the sound of old music with brand new headphones. It was about listening and referencing the words and sounds I'd ignored my entire life. I wished someone was there next to me for me to say how amazing that was. I wanted what I expected from her. I wanted to put my buds inside their ears. Just like I wanted her to stop at a page and tell me what stood out.

"It is necessary to handle yourself better when you have to cut down on food so you will not get too much hunger-thinking. Hunger is good discipline and you learn from it." - Ernest Hemingway

I guess it was easier to put the books in the seatback, play some offline SpellTower and squawk to the "boogity beat". This felt best in Europe and worked when next to her. However, a year later next to a sleeping Korean girl playing "Dark Was The Night" brought me to absolute tears. The same goes for listening to The White Album on sleeping pills and listening to Tina Turner sing "Rag Doll" at the highest volume my hearing could take. It was also very telling to travel alone and cheaply and be morbidly happy. I was incredibly happy looking out the window at the likes of Palatka, eating a KIND bar and listening to "Reasonable Doubt". I was a complete 180 from being on the edge of Costa Del Sol with a so-called best friend. Would things be any different had she even looked at me once while reading my most favorite book? I doubt it. She acted like reading it was a chore. So I took my book back and tucked it in the front pocket of my suitcase with my hairbrush and first aid kit. It wasn't special anymore. Now it was just worn and full of beach sand. Just looking at it made me feel hopeless. I should have been re-reading it and heeding the warnings within… listening to good music … interpreting what he said for myself.

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I've been writing this particular entry for months. You could even say for over a year. I could never get it just right and I researched many things. I was trying hard to continue referencing the book or Hemingway or whatever tidbit matched my sentiments. I even stumbled upon a pretty sweet blog about life & travel. I took a long excerpt from it and then I waited for permission to post it. The writer never responded to my request and it could be for many reasons. She's one of those people that learned her lesson about curated travel with friends and she primarily retreats alone. There are these posts about minimalism and endurance flanked by photos of her on mountaintops and in villages. I like to think she's so far removed she can't respond to my request but something tells me by the lack of posts she may be over her own blog or feared dead. Either way she had a few timeless things to say about Hemingway's manifesto and the need to be as you are in many places. So here goes…

"Let’s not loose sight of those simple things that used to be all we needed. And let’s not wonder so much what if I did or what if I didn’t.
Rather, let’s just do what we think is best for ourselves. Because in the end, when we look back on our earlier days, it won’t matter what was bothering you, who ruined your day, how hard you had it, or how much money was in your bank account.
What will matter is if we strived to satisfy that hunger in life to best of our ability, being the best person we can be, and learning from both the days that are a blast and the days that are just sh*t. As the Boss song goes, “Someday we’ll look back on this and it will all seem funny.”
I hope your life is a moveable feast." - Lauren Rains of The Mad To Live 

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