I am on the road again. I packed my backpack, put on my hiking boots, gave a bell to my friend in Wales and then, I stepped outside my door. Again, all I have is a plane ticket and an address, most of my journey is still unplanned, yet this calms me more than anything else. I am on the road again- it feels wonderful and perfectly right. I’ll just spend a few days in Wales, hoping to get some fresh air, to catch up with my friend, to relax from work.
I do not yet know that three days later I’ll return home with the feeling of having spent two whole weeks. I do not yet know that on Monday, I’ll take a train home, flooded with joy and happiness, the ocean to my left and the giant, silent mountains to my right, knowing that I can easily rock teaching until christmas.
Bangor is a small, hilly town on Wales’ North Coast, more than half of its inhabitants are students. It is perfectly located between the ocean and the mountains of Snowdonia, the autumn weather these days is surprisingly pleasant. The students I meet are young and passionate, they burn for life and for little things like robins and soap bubbles: They take their hula hoops wherever they go, they juggle and dance, they know bird species from their sounds and stay behind on hikes for they are searching the sky and trees for animals. “I’ll catch up“, Harry shouts, red curls in welsh autumn winds. Gabe plants moss on his window sill, calling two cute plants in ceramic bowls a moss garden. Some students meet in viking costumes in a stone circle on a hill, training sword fights. I laugh about the absurdity and wonderfulness about this place and situation. Sometimes hippies go there, Gabe explains, to contact some spirits. But what they don’t know, he goes on, is that this stone circle has only been built for a movie set in the sixties. Other students meet in a bubble society, making giant soap bubbles at the beach. Dazzling they gyrate up in the air, split, dance, speed up, reel and then explode. It is the beginning of October, the weather is perfectly autumny and I wear my flip flops, watching the soap bubbles lose their mind. Suddenly, everything falls into place.
I learn to skateboard and to bake a crumble, I learn new words like extractor fan, impenetrable and strait. We eat chips with vinegar and we eat kale – just like we did in Kenya- with our hands. I learn that Drum n Base will probably never become my favorite music style as I don’t understand the rhythm and even though my body knows a thousand dance moves, none of them goes with the beat. Somewhere in the dancing, sweating crowd sings (shouts?) a fat, balt headed and pretty serious looking DJ. We hop along for some moments, the wooden floor of the attic disco hums, shirts and fluff and teeth glow in black light. Gabe pulls me from the dance floor, laughs, this is ridiculous, and we move on. I like doing things like this, when everything is new and when my mind and body has to understand everything from the top and cannot connect to anything familiar. And in all these new things, it then feels great to have someone around who knows how you like your oat meal and how you organize your stuff.
We hike to Aber Falls in Snowdonia, crossing silent fir forests and boulders. Moss, lichen, fungus. It had been raining a lot the past days and the water falls swoosh down the rocks and down in the valley, following the river and soon meeting the ocean that can be seen between the mountains. Now, the sun is shining on my no longer tanned nose, the winds blow strongly and takes away all troubles. I can almost see how they spin up in the air like the soap bubbles at the beach and how they soon burst in the breeze.
I need the calm and peace of the mountains and the silence of the woods in my soul, I need the aspect of massive grounds, providently, wise and eternally; I need the heaving, dependable waves of the ocean and the strong sound of the winds. I need the fire in people’s eyes and I need Gold Time in the evening, when everything becomes so noble and precious around us and peaceful and silent within us. I again notice that I don’t want to spend too much time in neon lamp lighted lecture halls or in tight, fashionable jeans but in places where life pulsates and keeps silent to the same time and allows me to feel alive.
In summer, I had been afraid of the autumn, I had been afraid of the disappearance of long, bright nights and the sun’s warmth, I had been afraid of the beauty and brutality of the change autumn carries. Sometimes, I want to think that in autumn, everything dies and everything rears up one last time with the whirling golden leafs and hissing winds. I must think of the leafs soon to crumble to colorless dust, leaving behind bald branches like bizarre figures. But the leaf’s last moments are their most beautiful ones, their happiest ones, making space for the new buds of spring, of the spring that will come one day.
Later we harvest black berries with rosy cheeks and purple fingers. We then bake a crumble, it is cozy and warm in the kitchen and I look for a word to describe the autumn on my cheeks. A word to explain the traces of the winds in my face, the briskness and chill while the cheeks glow warmly and rosily and while everything is just perfect. The crumble tastes delicious, fruity and sweet. We share it with friends, hanging out in one of the common kitchens, taking about this and that, important, unimportant, what does it matter? We are here and we are now. Gabe collects moss, Harry knows bird species. I write poetry, Em juggles and Rachel makes bubbles. Tomorrow, I’ll be going home with many impressions that will carry me through the winter. I have collected my stuff that I had spread out in Gabes room. I take home a book of short stories he suggest me to read, a crumble recipe and lots of energy for the upcoming term at work. See you around, Gabe shouts at the station when I am about to leave. No idea, when, though. I’ll receive a mail one day. I’ll come see you next week, it’ll read, that’s alright, isn’t it?