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Monday, January 25, 2010

Trapped in Hope

"We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it”
Tennessee Williams

“There was a power outage at a department store yesterday. Twenty people were trapped on the escalators.”
Stephen Wright

“People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.”
James Arthur Baldwin

“Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.”
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

“No man knows when his hour will come; As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them”
The Bible

“Worry compounds the futility of being trapped on a dead-end street. Thinking opens new avenues.”
Cullen Hightower

“Sometimes I feel that I'm a lesbian trapped in a man's body - which actually works out pretty well”
Author Unknown

“With relish and delight, you continually bite at the bait; you are trapped, you fool - how will you ever escape?”
 Sri Guru Granth Sahib

“Love comes to those who still hope even though they've been disappointed, to those who still believe even though they've been betrayed, to those who still love even though they've been hurt before.”
Author Unknown

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”
Albert Einstein

“In all things it is better to hope than to despair”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Hope is the dream of a soul awake.”
French Proverb

“Hope never abandons you; you abandon it”
George Weinberg

“Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope”
Author Unknown

“Hope is not a dream but a way of making dreams become reality.”
Author Unknown

“Dum spiro, spero (Latin), "While I breathe, I hope"
Latin Proverb

P.S. You might of course deduct that presently I have nothing to say, that I am totally unispired. Well you are absolutely right

"I am trapped in hope."

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dutch Mills

Was it meant to be that way, to invariably fall in the arms of a new city only deep in the night? In the small hours of Monday I stepped out of the train station in the center of Rotterdam. She shuddered at my sudden appearance and defensively grabbed my throat with a bitterly cold hand. I pulled my collar high around the neck, squinted into the wind then walked north in search of a taxi. She relaxed and apologetically let go. "You're late", she said under her breath, vapor rolling with her words and disappearing instantly. Remnants of Christmas ornaments and lights shined and blinked for no one but me as the snow covered sidewalks were left completely deserted. Whoever celebrated here were gone, hiding within the comfort of quaint small apartments. If they were sleepless tonight and looked from behind their wide un-curtained windows to the streets below, they would see the shivering shadows of naked trees and the hunched figure of a lonely traveler seeking a warm bed.

I stared at her as the cab gobbled the chilly asphalt. So young, she looked, racy, tempting and in vogue. Rotterdam was completely destroyed by the Luftwaffe on May 14th, 1940 and rebuilt from scratch thereafter. Her modern skyline caught my eye and tickled my fancy. I have never met any city so adolescent and tempting like her before.

The steamy jet of water washed the dust from the lengthy traverse off of my body but did not bring solace to my mind. I was weary and tired and only a telepathic whisper, a sigh of relief, emanating from within brought sleep to my eyes. I dreamed of nothing in the short time I rested before my day began, before the next seventy two hours heartlessly kept me awake and on the run.

I was able to take short walks in between meetings. After the mutant tepid winter of the Levant the subzero temperatures felt imperative to my biological calendar. Memories from the distant past danced in my head. It had been a long time since I lived in such a cold place, yet the images were hopeful and alive. I longed for a frost that turns warm in the holding of hands. I saw our footprints in the snow, large and small entwining, crisscrossing as we hugged and swayed in a slow amble along a white path.

When it was finally over, the work, we dined in a superb seafood restaurant on the River Ijssel. Vitor, an epicure with a kind heart and a priceless sense of humor from Galicia and I sat across the table. Amid laughter and good food he talked lovingly of his homeland. I have learned more about what Spain is and is not that evening than I had from reading the many history books once upon a time. We drank a silky Caiño Blanca harvested from near the Minho river in Galicia, he told me. We talked of fish and wine, of La Coruña and Rotterdam, of the folly of men and the eternal beauty of women. Well past midnight we rode through the  countryside toward Schiphol airport near Amsterdam. As the sparse old Dutch mills stood silent in the dark modern ones turned incessantly in the wind. The forty five minute drive passed in the blink of an eye as the good times always do. We hugged for an everlasting minute in the lobby of yet another hotel. "Be safe my friend Vitor", I said. "See you in March, God only knows where, dear Abufares", he replied.

I did not have sufficient time to lose myself to slumber. Instead I tossed and turned waiting for icy take-offs and landings and a tiring drive home in the rain.

"Sleep well and hold me tight", I dreamed of the words kissing my forehead then capering down my face.

"Goodnight", I closed my eyes and floated in an azure womb of adoration unbeknown to the mass of desperate men. I did not stir a muscle for the next fourteen hours.

Good morning World, I am back in Tartous.

Saturday, January 09, 2010


I do not sleep well on the night before I travel and the last hours before an imminent departure are always restless. Packing for a midwinter trip is knotty as there are more things to take and to forget.
This time I'm leaving the warmth of an unusually mild winter with absurdly beautiful weather (today: clear skies and 24ºC) to higher latitudes and subzero temperatures.
Out of Tartous in the morning and two taxis, two planes and a train later, it'll be past midnight in some small room of a big hotel in a strange city.
I will be back at the end of the week, hopefully with a  new story to tell.