“The more I traveled the more I realized that fear makes strangers of people who should be friends.” Shirley MacLaine
I went to Carnation. I had to go there. I stood under the shop where four years ago Captain Chicken and Nick Salvino tried to convince me not to go to Fall City. But I did not follow their advice and I went and in very weird circumstances I broke my knee cap. And I still don’t know what would really have happened if I had done what they had asked me to do.
The store was closed. I took a photo, sat on the ground, leaned against the wall and waited. It was hot and windy, completely different from the fall time, when in the thick mist I was wrapping myself in the cobwebs. I fell asleep. I was awakened by a tipsy-looking man. I thought he would know where the Captain Chicken lives. So he did. There was an address on the flyer I had a picture of, but I did not look at it intentionally. I knew that if I was about to find the place, I would find it anyway.
I wandered an hour, maybe two, long enough for any reasonably thinking creature to finally give up, but I am not a reasonably thinking creature, so I was still looking for the place. The funny thing is, that the closer I was to meet Captain Chicken, the more I asked myself: “Why”? What for? Why do I want so much to see him again? I will meet him and then what? What will I tell him? Something like, Do you know that four years ago after our meeting I broke my knee in Fall City? Do you remember how you with your friend tried to convince me not to go there? Do you know that I often thought what would really have happened if I had actually followed your advice and took another way? That I often looked at our photo taken four years ago – with you and me and Nick, and that I tried to get into your eyes? Literally. And you know that in fact I actually came here to do so? I wanted to get into your eyes. It’s not possible? Well, I am just doing it.”
So, I wandered and wandered and could not find it. Once someone said it was two houses away, once that it was closer, once that the house is green, then that it is blue and it can’t be seen from the street. I finally did give up and was cycling back to the town, but suddenly I saw a narrow road going into the forest with two mailboxes close to it and I did not know why but I was sure it was there. And when after a few hundred yards I saw a figure of a wooden man in a hat and a doghouse with a doll inside, then I had no doubt. That was the place.
Nick Salvino recognized me right away, but he seemed somehow frightened. Captain Chicken left the house a moment earlier. He gave me a quick glance, then another, longer and muttered something unintelligibly. The leaves rustled in the light breeze. Something moved in the doghouse. I closed my eyes and jumped. Straight into his pupils. And as I opened it, the Captain had gone. He stayed inside. Inside of me.
– He is tired – said Nick . – Leave him alone, and let’s go back to play with horseshoes.
In a moment I got to know the rules alongside with the players themselves. Captain Chicken had gone and didn’t come back. I joined the party for a while. I don’t know why but I didn’t stay for the night. The most plausible explanation is that nobody suggested it. I was about to say that I came there nearly at the day of my birthday, but somehow I didn’t say more than some silly utterances, and after some time of loitering – I left.
But the birthday was celebrated anyway. The family I met at Nogales were coming back from their holidays from Alaska. We met up in Seattle and they invited me to dinner. A lot of smiles, loads of warmth wards, sharing good energy, with the sea behind the window, and the ocean of memories left behind. Will I have place to put them all when I got silent? Will I ever reciprocate their hospitality? Will I have time to put everything into proper words? Will I be able to express in words what I got from them? A fragment of their lives, a little and tiny very home.
And it was just the beginning. I barely left Seattle, when I met Beth and Ray, who put a birthday candle in a cake for me to blow it up. Then Brain, who gave me a new saddle and invited for fish and chips, then Meilani with her husband who made absolutely delicious pancakes with blueberries for breakfast, and who were about to get to Australia soon for a year or so.
One wish – to be better for the others, to become a better person. Then the world will be better and everything around, too. And to start giving, giving more, taking less, or best – not to take anything anymore, or even refuse. Or take what is offer and then give it away. After all, I have everything, I have more than enough. I have a bicycle; I have the sunset and sunrise almost every day, I have the sky above my head, I have some food and strong legs. Even love goes with me. And when you feel love, you have almost everything. Love. Just a word, but how important, perhaps the most important of all. And yet. It goes, it rises, it hugs me, it rocks me to sleep, touches, whispers. Infinity.