The Journey Really is O.
As the neon sign exclaimed in the airport yesterday, my art journey is now O.
Last time I saw the sign it said ‘on’. I guess somebody broke it because the ‘n’ was missing and in front of the bottom letters there had been applied a thick transparent piece of plastic. I personally quite enjoy the possibilities the single ‘O’ gives. My journey can now be o-riginal, o-bvious, o-dd, o-pen, o-ntological or o-pinionated. Then on the other hand it could also be o-ff or even o-ffensive, but I assure you it is neither.
The Day Before and Departing
The evening before my departure Friday to Madrid, my dear boyfriend K and I hosted a little gathering with food and board games at his place in the Northwest part of Copenhagen.
We shopped beforehand and started cooking Thursday at noon. We decided to listen to Tom Jones while preparing the dinner, which was a brilliant choice, if I may say so myself. K is a great chef, I’m just an okay chef, so I played the part of the sous-chef, prepping vegetables for the tenderloin stew with mashed potatoes we had decided to make.
No more than one minute after I had changed into a more festive black velvet dress, people started arriving. One by one people settled in the living room while K. continued the preparation of the stew. I started gathering the guests around the dining table for some board games.
It struck me how that kind of social gathering with friends would not be possible in the same way for the next months. Luckily K will come visit me sometimes, and maybe some of my friends will too, but other than that, the friends I might encounter during my travels will be new ones. When the diner was ready we had a feast and then more games, and beers – lots of beers.
The next morning K and I awoke to a forest of beer cans. Every single horizontal surface was covered in cans. One lonely bottle of wine towered above it all and in the kitchen a jungle of dirty dishes decorated the room. Although I felt slightly overwhelmed at first, it turned out to be the loveliest last day in Copenhagen I could wish for. We alternated between cleaning and tidying up, napping, watching Tin Tin cartoons on Netflix, more cleaning and tidying and later playing Playstation 2 while drinking strong black coffee.
When the time came to leave and go to the airport, I felt myself slowly but surely becoming more emotional. Just holding his hand, an act so simple and regular before, felt crucial: in the bus to the metro, in the metro to the airport, in the airport and finally at the security when we had to say goodbye – I held on to his hand.
Until I cracked, and a few tears betrayed my attempt to act cool and revealed how the prospect of missing him during my travels had already taken a hold of me. Yet it was a lovely ‘so long’, since it was clear to me he felt the same way.
Next I was walking the long lonely way to the remote, as I call it: ‘Discount Airlines Terminal’ of Kastrup Airport. With my single red backpack containing all my things. Almost in slow-motion I was gliding with a wagon through empty halls that were ragged due to construction work.
I realized fully, for the first time, how this trip and venture is a solo thing. First I was struck by a sort of pain in the chest, but right then I decided to remember my sense of unwavering dedication to the art travel idea, and that I would face everything going forward with an open mind and enthusiasm; and less of the beginning obsession with a nostalgic sense of longing.
On The Plane
Once on the plane, I instantly brought forth my notebook and my calendar in order to write in my journal and to sketch. I soon found it hard to concentrate since a large group of Spanish speaking teenagers kept migrating back and forth the airplane aisle to have loud or much louder conversations. They seemed to genuinely enjoy themselves, and the more enthusiastic they became, the louder they became – until they actually managed to drown the noise from the plane’s engine and the strong airflow noises combined.
Soon the passengers closest to the teenagers began ‘schhhh SCHHHS SCHHUSS!’-ing them. This only resulted in an outburst of giggles from the group, followed by a period of secret whispering and then they went back to talking impressively loud.
It wasn’t only the younger people that talked though. In the row in front of me a woman at about 40 years old with a tight braid over her right shoulder stood up for about 50 minutes discussing something in Spanish with her friend.
Never before have I been on a flight with so much traffic up and down the rows of seats and with so much talking and socializing flowing about. In a way it was quite homely, as they seemed to act as if they were simply at a friend’s house or a coffee shop they regularly frequented. Although, I must admit I found the level of loudness quite disturbing.
So I put on my earphones with some music and started drawing sketches of K, after some holiday photos from December when we visited my mother in Yorkshire in England. The drawings were done in my calendar on pages with past days for practical reasons. I have to economize my space since I only have my red backpack, and books take up space and weigh a great deal, so why not use those pages in my calendar? I find the idea quite brilliant myself. The reason that I chose to draw K, as some of you might have guessed, was because I was missing him already. He was the only thing I really felt like sketching.
The flight was delayed, so I didn’t arrive at my hostel before around 2 at night. Maybe since it was Friday, the metro had been busy with party dressed people, which was colorful and helped keep me awake. Luckily the hostel was easy to find and I quickly checked into my room.
After searching about in the dark for my bed and some light switches for the toilet, I settled in under the blanket. Even though I was exhausted I found it difficult to sleep. The guy in the bunk above mine had a way of munching in his sleep. I wonder if maybe he was dreaming of food? If he wasn’t munching he was snoring like a giant and even my earplugs couldn’t keep out the noise. I really have to learn to sleep in hostel dorms, or I’ll be in trouble.
In short I didn’t sleep much before everybody else woke up and consequently me as well. It suited me alright, since I was excited to explore Madrid in daylight for the very first time ever.
Morning in Madrid
It was a good first impression. The area around La Latina metro, where my Hostel is close by, is filled with graffiti and small narrow streets with lots of windows that have small balconies or grids with plants hanging out over the streets.
Here are a few of my immediate impressions of Madrid:
There appears to be a lot of grafitti, many dogs and dog lovers and a lot of scooters; there also appears to be a great amount of small specialist shops such as: a traditional shoemaker, a carpenter that specializes in chairs, a fortune teller, book shops, tailors, specialist tea shops, Chinese stuff shops – all kinds of different tiny boutiques that I believe would have a hard time surviving in the Copenhagen I know, that gets more and more dominated by big chains.
To sum up, my first impression of Madrid this morning was wonderful. I truly look forward to exploring it more. During this coming week, once I’ve made more experiences and drawings, I will post a Madrid feature for you all, my dear readers.