“The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.” Anna Quindlen
I was cycling slowly through the park. Rustling leaves hovered in the air somewhere on the edge of the silence and gentle whispers, like the murmur of barely perceived, subtle sounds, audible only inside me. The giant trees grew around, staring at me with their invisible eyes buried among twisted boughs. I was looking at them with my eyes fixed on something lying ahead and I could not escape the feeling that I did not move, but the trees themselves were moving behind me. And I stood still, motionless, as if I had not moved an inch for years, and only the landscape and the sky were going somewhere, going to the place where I was born, where I came from, and the only thing I could do was to stand still, look and wait until everything flowed and there was nothing more than empty, clean, bright sky in which one day I will melt and disappear.
I fell asleep among redwoods, in the silence of the forest, in the darkness of the night, and in the calm of my thoughts. A young guard came in the morning and woke me up, somewhat uncertain what to do, because he took me for a bum who got lost in the grass, and actually the guard wasn’t very mistaken, because in fact, there is very little difference, if any, between me and so many vagabonds I meet on the way.
Funny as it may seem – people in the States (with some exceptions) usually take me as a bum, a professional one; a soret of cyclist, who has neither home nor job nor any prospects of changing his life. I would not have any problems with it (let people think what they want), but that perception has its repercussions in practice.
When I’m looking for a place to sleep in the evenings, people usually greet me with a phrase that resembles Polish “fuck up you dirty bum” (though it is possible to hear also more elaborate and sublime phrases such as “Do not tease my dog because I won’t be able to stop him and he will get you”). I honestly admit that indeed – it was a little frustrating at first because after a year in the countries where people not only willingly allow you to put up your tent in their gardens, but usually invite you for a conversation or even for dinner, I just forgot that not everybody is so cheerful and hospitable as most Latinos.
Surely – I also meet some friendly and hospitable people – so generous, so full of warmth and friendliness, that it seems to be even overwhelming, as it was the case with Marta’s family, where I could take a rest and get a feeling that I found myself at home.
No, I do not blame anybody for anything, and I don’t hold any grudge, far from it. I would even say that I understand those who chase me away from their properties. All in all – they don’t know me, and they want to protect their houses and neighbourhood. And in fact – at the first glance I really look like all those “castaways” I meet. Instead of a car I use the bike, I sleep in a tent, I cycle without a helmet (which seems to be a really distinguishing feature), and I do not wear professional, cycling t-shirts, neither I possess a cult Brooks saddle or even more cult bicycle named Surly. I have a simple bike, even more simple saddle, I collect all plastic bottles and bags, I take coins from the road, in McDonald’s I buy just a coffee, I wash myself in free restrooms, and in the library I do not rent books but I just use free wifi. Finally I often talk to myself and smile a lot. And then I go to pick up wild blackberries.
I have been eating them for a month, putting juicy fruit straight into my mouth, into the palate and the sun and the blue sky under which they grew was pouring inside of me. There are so many of them that I choose only the biggest, the sweetest and the ripest.
Do you know that there is a separate, scientific study of blackberries named “batology”? It serves “to understand the very complex differentiation of blackberries at the genetic and morphological levels.” So, if there is any batologist among the readers, I have to say that I have no idea how much these California and Oregon blackberries are genetically and morphologically different but they are the tastiest and the sweetest i have ever eaten in mz life. If only I could share their taste with you. But I can’t. It can’t share those blackberries with you. And again that thought – is it possible to share anything at all?
I’m heading north, or maybe I’m not going anywhere, I’m not floating anywhere, neither with the wind nor with myself. I’m just standing there where I am, and the world is fleeing south. The winter is still far away, blackberries grow around me, birds fly in the sky. They hover above, spin in the beat of the trumpet’s sound. I stand in the middle and see how trees approach and whisper, inviting me to dance. They touch me as they turn, attract and tempt until they finally get hold of me, pull me into their dance, faster and faster. I dance.