Destinations, Europe, Travel
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The Familiar and the Foreign

Madrid Gardens

What is in the missing of a person, a place, a thing? The ache of longing for a familiar face, a home cooked meal, or one’s own bed settles in when on the road. There is a comfort in being in the same space as a good friend or hearing a love’s laugh. Sometimes as I wander the streets of a foreign city, I experience a strange connection in the face of a perfect stranger. Near the beach in Brighton, a small child walked purposely slower than her mother with an ice cream cone half melting in her hand. Her little eyes were slanted in a sassy and defiant expression as if she were about to demand all eyes on her, and for a moment my friend Jessica was there.  Her eyes close down a bit and she will weave her head slightly stating her opinion with a beautiful fierceness. Sometimes if she is walking she will suddenly stop, proclaim her side of the story with a wave of her hand, and then continue.  The little diva side she sometimes has when she’s about to make a strong point in a conversation appeared in this little child across the miles. When I was in Spain, my friend Danny appeared on several occasions crossing the street, sitting at a cafe, or standing in an alley. He ran in and out of my vision at random moments. A tug of warmth would happen at recognizing a friend and then a letting go as the reality of a stranger settled in. In an airport in England, my friend Omi walked away with his luggage. His silhouette appearing in front of a large paneled window and for a moment I thought, he travels often, it’s him! Only to have him fade into another man. A past love also has made his way into the eyes of unknown people, sending a flicker of loss into my heart. It has been only a month on the road and I’ve seen so many people reappear in this strange, teasing way.

Girl and Topiary
In addition to these threads of connection to people, I have had waves of déjà vu at different places. When walking in a garden in Madrid, a sensation hit me like a wave creating a strange body buzz like the world was humming through my bones. This new place I had never been created the strongest sense of the phenomenon that I have felt. Had I been there before? Had I dreamed of this place? Have I had a past life? Or is my future self recognizing that I am living the dream I have finally made a reality by taking this journey? As I made my way under shadows of trees and heard the water fall from a fountain, a heightened sense of awareness crept over me and I seemed to drift from space to space with a tingling up the base of my neck. It was like I had taken a pill that allowed me to catch a glimpse of some reality usually unknown to me. Suddenly I could see behind the curtain and the feeling lingered for quite some time that day as I wandered the green spaces of Madrid. This strange sense of another time made me highly present in the now. It was a beautiful day in dappled light, under shady trees and soft breezes around the city. If you feel like getting lost and escaping the city, head down to the Real Jardín Botánico and the Parque de El Retiro. Who knows, you may discover a part of yourself that you never knew existed.


Parque de El Retiro
Retiro path
Retiro Park
Parque de El Retiro
Parque de El Retiro
Parque de El Retiro

Summer is Winter

Today is tomorrow, and present, past,

Nothing exists and everything will last.

There is no beginning, there was no end,

No depth to fall, no height to ascend.

There is only this moment, this flicker of light,

That illuminates nothing, but oh! So bright!

For we are the spark that flutters in space,

Consuming an eternity of a moment’s grace,

For today is tomorrow, and present, past.

Nothing exists, and everything will last.

by Jane Roberts, 1952



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