Travelogue

I was told that nowhere was the place to go so I Googled it and found cheap tickets. A cruise on a tramp steamer, followed by a balloon ride, followed by a stint on a rickshaw, ending up, naturally, with a five-hundred-mile walk into the interior of nothing. That’s not nothing. I spent six months getting into shape for it because sometimes we just have to challenge ourselves and push beyond our limits if only to have something to talk about at parties. The website mentioned packing light. I emailed them and asked, Wave or particle? No one answered, because that’s how customer service works on the Internet, am I right, so I rounded up half a dozen candles, a flashlight, a box of matches, a lighter, and a flint and steel, and I put them in my rucksack and then I took them out and packed three novels and my two favorite T-shirts and don’t tell anyone but this very tiny carved rabbit I’ve had since I was little, I get anxious if I’m away from it for too long. Who am I kidding, if it gets down to needing a flint and steel I’m going to die anyway so I might as well have something to read while I’m waiting to do it.

even this cell phone
may be transformed
into a passenger pigeon

I printed out the tickets, took them down to the dock, got on the ship and first thing I met someone else who was going nowhere so we decided to go together. He had a pocket knife with a million attachments (hyperbole, hello) which he spent three days demonstrating to me, carving things and measuring them and unscrewing them and taking corks out of them. Now we’re on the rickshaw, I’m still feeling airsick from the balloon, it’s getting darker and the rickshaw driver gets very winded going up hills. I’m wondering if we should get out and walk to spell him but it’s not time to walk yet, my companion tells me. How will we know, I ask him. We’ll know, he says, when we’re exactly five hundred miles from nowhere. I ask him if he wants me to read to him from one of my novels and he shrugs. Is this not enough of a story for you, he asks. Nothing is enough of a story for me, I say, and I take out my tiny rabbit and hold it cupped carefully in my hands, facing forward, so it can see where we’re going.

narrow road
and the journey itself
is home

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