November 3, 2009

i worrry

..jesus christ.

I have some stories that I've been poking at for the last few years. I think that if I use this blog as a tool - a source for pressure, like keeping everyone tuned in - I can chip away at stories one "chapter" at a time, thus not allowing myself to revise, thus... finishing something.
And it's like what a lot of authors have done in the past, releasing pieces one section at a time, a one-part-per-publication sort of thing.

This story goes back furthest. If you've ever been around a campfire with me you've probably heard it. I've written it on five or six occasions, all of which have been really terrible. I want to finish it, and put it behind me.

My writing makes me think of two things:

1) How self-involved I am,


2) This article from the Onion, headline: "Commas, Turning Up, Everywhere."

So goes...


I think Zurich, but really, I have no idea where I am headed. I just haven’t realized this yet.

Just a couple of weeks ago I arrived in Italy to live for three months, to attend an art school of almost all Americans, to have some experiences, to see the world, find some direction, put college off.

Not long ago – only four months ago – I was at an east coast prep school. It was a good school out in the cuts of Massachusetts, where the winters were long, the hills piled high with snow and the trees tall and thin and sad looking. My friends and I, we frequently hid in those trees, knee-deep in the snow, and we smoked joints and cigarettes, and the tree limbs were encased in a flawless ice covering. Back at the dorm I applied Visine and in bed slogged through Kerouac, enamored.

I am on a train to Switzerland. I just woke up after an all-night ride. It’s dark in the room. It’s quiet enough that I think the strange silent lady I share the cabin with is still asleep. On my back, from my bunk, I lift an arm up over my head to the window and pull the shade back. The cabin is lit up. I perk up, roll over to my stomach, and see that the train is moving fast through a steep green canyon, and then there are blue waterfalls falls cascading down one after another, and then the walls fall backwards into rolling hills that stretch far, far off into the distance. I have arrived, I think.

Two days ago I decided I wanted to go to Switzerland. I don’t know much of anything about Switzerland. I’ve always imagined blonde-haired, fair-skinned women, lush green hills, and deep blue waterfalls. That’s enough. So I got on the internet, pulled up a map of Switzerland, and it couldn’t have been anymore rudimentary. It was marked with the names of only four, maybe five places. I saw Zurich, had heard of it, and decided that was where I’d go. I’d go alone. I’d travel light, like a beatnik, a vagabond with a rucksack. I went and got the ticket.

The night of my departure I showed up to the train station drunk. I looked to the rotary schedule up high on a wall and couldn’t figure the thing out. I didn’t see Zurich anywhere on it. Wafting over the crowd, over all the muddled noise, I heard women singing “California Dreamin’.” I went to watch and listen. There were about fifteen of them, all with blonde hair and milky-white skin and absolutely beautiful, and they sang the song in rounds, very well, and when they finished the crowd applauded and dispersed, and I approached and explained that I was from California. They seemed only mildly interested in this. But I told them that I was looking for a train to Zurich, and asked if they knew where it was. They told me that they were going to Zurich too, back home, and that it was time to go.

But the train doesn’t stop. It keeps galloping through the countryside, and it hits me, that Zurich, as one of four places on that map, is sure to be a city, and a large one at that. For a moment I consider deboarding at a small nameless village in the hills, but it’s raining and it all looks so inhospitable, and in the end I decide against it. We roll through wooded hills, and not long after, arrive.

As one of the world’s largest centers for offshore banking, and as home to the Swiss Stock Exchange, Zurich is Switzerland’s commercial center. Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland. Zurich is the wealthiest city in Europe. Zurich is a far cry from the hippy-dippy wilderness retreat I’d just barely aimed for.

I step off the train in a t-shirt and shorts and it is cold. Like, really cold. Should have packed a sweater. I exchange currency and exit the station, and the sky is a mat of gray. It seems that everything in this city is gray. I cross the gray street and there is a gray staircase and I go down it for a place to put some pants on. Halfway down I stop and scramble to get the pants out from my backpack and onto my body. For a moment I am naked from the waist down in the elbow of a twisted cement stairwell in Switzerland. I am in Zurich, but really – and this is when I realize – I have no idea where I am.

to be continued...

No comments: