A Cafe Conversation

This afternoon, in a cafe in Delhi, I had the privilege of enjoying a wonderful conversation with a 62 year old Irish writer. He sat down at my table without any invitation, as if I had been waiting there for him to meet me. We began a conversation as if we had known one another for years; almost as if we were picking up where we had left off previously. As I sipped my coffee, we talked of our travels, of his writing, his homosexuality and the world’s view of such; Ireland and the amazing adventures the world has to offer. We spoke of Greenwich Village in its heyday, as if we had been there together. We mourned the loss of David Bowie and Alan Rickman and I told him of the celebrities I had served drinks to in NYC. Within less than an hour, he knew about the death of my parents, as well as their entire medical history. He knew of every place I had visited, not only on this adventure, but on all of them. As he told me of the many lovers he had taken around the world, his eyes lit up as his mind danced with their memories and his heart fluttered at the thought of each and every one. I have mentioned travel horcruxes before, and by the joy behind this Irish man’s eyes, he knows about them; all too well. However, after he spent a few moments lost in memory, he informed me that he could never fancy actually being in a monogamous relationship because he genuinely enjoys being alone. “We only get one life that we know of,” he said, “so we might as well enjoy it.” We discussed politics, religion, and science and all of the notions that modern society has forced us to shy away from in conversations; especially with strangers. Yet, he wasn’t really a stranger to me, at least that’s how it seemed. We discussed the Kardashians and how shameful it is when we are here in India, surrounded by so many hard working people who are living in complete poverty, just simply working themselves to the bone in order for survival of the most modest and humble form.
He was intrigued when I told him of the love my parents had for one another, saying that he couldn’t actually grasp loving one person so intently everyday; forever. I told him that he had clearly never met my parents.
Then we spoke of all the places and people and moments with which we had left a tiny sliver of our hearts. I told him that I call them horcruxes and he liked that very much. Between his many years of travel and many countries and my comparatively few, the two of us have many people, places and moments in time that are protecting tiny slivers of our hearts.
We spoke of how easy it once was to travel to so many beautiful places that are now so heavily restricted. He told me that if Bosnia wasn’t on my bucket list already, then it should be added immediately, as he considers it one of the most beautiful places he has seen. He asked me how many horcruxes I had created on this journey and to be honest, there were more than I had taken the time to tally up. In Norway, as I stood under the dancing spirits of the Northern Lights; in Sweden in an apartment in Linköping with two friends I barely knew until I got there and we became family; in Belgium as I was feeding goats, watching amazing sun sets and becoming sisters with a girl while we bonded over TV, cigarettes, and beer while discussing matters of the heart; and now in India. India, I told him, has been very special. I won’t leave just one sliver of my heart with my time in India. There are four wonderful people (now family) from Scotland and an amazing tour guide (also now family) from Mumbai who all are now each protecting a tiny sliver of my heart. Within moments, a piece of my heart just leapt to each of them without my consent, because those slivers knew they would be well taken care of. I have also left slivers on a camel ride through the desert, at a revolving restaurant 25 floors up in Delhi, in Dharavi, on a late night motor bike ride through Mumbai, while dancing at the wedding party of absolute strangers in Udaipur after accidentally stumbling upon their party and in a very tearful Moment at the Taj Mahal, which is the main reason I chose India. It was the only place out of the United States that my mom had wanted to see her entire life.
Eventually, as it came time for my new friend to bid me farewell, he finally told me his name; Charlie. Charlie, the Irish writer from Donegal who leads a very nomadic, adventurous life while writing most of his pieces in Gaelic. We didn’t names in order to have a most interesting conversation. We were friends the moment he picked my table to sit down at. Knowing one another’s names was simply a formality as we departed. We didn’t need the small talk of asking basic questions because we immediately delved into the heart of all matters. Life, death, love and adventure.

Tonight I created a horcrux in the Arctic Circle

I knew it would happen a few times on this journey, I just wasn’t prepared for how it would feel this time. I know that If you know what a horcrux is then you probably associate it with all things negative. When I read the word “horcrux” in those books that have forever left their mark in literature, I thought it was a beautiful power that had simply landed in the wrong hands. The idea of splitting off a fragment of your soul and tucking it away in time and space, a moment or even a person, so that that tiny fragment might live forever is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read and one of the most beautiful thoughts I have ever encountered.  I have the spirit of a traveler and the heart of a hopeless romantic, so I have actually been creating horcruxes since before I knew there was a word for them. Mine have generally been created in places or moments, but there are also a very few people that I have left a piece of my soul with; none of whom I have ever actually dated.
I met a woman in Prague who told me that she had left her heart at the gate to the Fjords of Norway and she had been trying to get back ever since, not to reclaim her heart, but to simply be reconnected with it for a bit. This is how I feel every time I leave a piece of my soul within a moment or a place or a beating heart. I know these moments in time and these corners of the earth and the few beating hearts I have entrusted with this honor will forever hold their sliver safe and protected.
The first horcrux I remember creating was in Dundee, Scotland. Actually I created two there; one inside a place that my moment in time will live forever in and the other in a beating heart who I can only hope thinks of me fondly as often as I do him. My horcrux list has grown significantly over the years. There are three men who will forever protect a miniscule, but not unimportant piece of my soul. One of them might read this and should he, he will know that I am absolutely talking about him. That horcrux was written in the stars. One of them will most definitely read this and believe instantly that I am talking about him, though he’ll never know for certain; but oh he’ll believe it. The third one will most likely read this and will have absolutely no idea that he is currently in possession of a tiny sliver of me. He might think for the tiniest of seconds, “Is she… Could she be talking about me?” but then he will brush it off and wonder why I’ve never mentioned my horcruxes to him before. I also have a friend unlike any other who will also forever protect a tiny sliver of me.
The list of places and moments is actually quite longer than the other because moments in time aren’t aware that they can refuse your affections. They just are and allow you to just be. Tonight I will add The Arctic Circle to a list that includes Scotland; Prague; Sedona, Arizona; New York City; Memphis,TN; The Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, Long Beach Island, NJ, Stonehenge, The Giant’s Causeway in Ireland and the Grand Canyon.
I have been sad for the better part of a year and tonight my heart is filled to the brim with joy, prospect, warmth, excitement and positivity. Tonight I stood on Deck 5 of the Hurtigurten Ship under a sky that was filled with the Northern Lights for almost three hours. I took pictures until I thought my ungloved hand might break off and then I just stood there and watched because I know that the pictures will never be as great as it was to be there underneath them. Both of my parents wanted to see the Northern Lights and now I truly believe they have. I stood with two German Women who’s names I never learned and we watched in amazement as we became part of a fortunate group of charmed individuals who have now seen the Northern Lights.
As they got brighter and stronger and actually began to dance, I felt as if the earth were filling me with every single ounce of its positive energy. I felt like I was receiving a gift that so few people receive or realize they are being granted.
While they continued, one of the women managed to ask me why the Northern Lights? Why was I desperate to experience them? To be honest, besides the fact that both of my parents wanted to see them (which I explained to her) and it seemed like the right thing to do; I truly had no idea until I experienced them. In that moment in time I realized that my desperate need to see them, and the reason I planned my the first leg off my Journey in such unadulterated haste, was actually a calling. I was being called here through tiny sounds in the wind and ripples in the seas and whistling in the grass so that I could come and have my cup refilled. In the last four hours, I have not been sad. I have been absorbing the earth’s energy and I only walked away from the majesty of the lights when my cup began to run over. It would not be fair after all, for me to absorb all that the spirit of the lights has to offer.
I am not saying at all that I am healed. I’m not certain that I can ever truly heal, only evolve, but for the first time in a long time, I have been recharged. I’m certain that I will need to be recharged again and again both on this adventure I am currently undertaking and also in everyday life for as long as I shall live it, but right here and now I am full of hope and joy and endless possibility and that is why I will say to everyone: if you get a chance to Chase the Northern Lights, do it. If you are standing underneath them and you can’t get your camera settings right, or someone is texting you, just stop. Look. Experience. Feel. Just be there in The moment.  The post card you buy will inevitably be far better than your picture anyway. Feel the spirits of the earth as the lights fill the sky with their dances.

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The Emerald Isle, The Cliffs of Moher

The Emerald Isle, The Cliffs of Moher

I recently returned home from two of the best weeks I have experienced in a long time. Travel is always a grand adventure, and this was the first grand adventure I have had in three years. I am still organizing my thoughts and my photos, but I wanted to give everyone a taste of Ireland.

When I was in Prague, I met a woman who was the owner of a tiny little bar. While my friend and I were there it began to rain and she locked the doors because she said she wouldn’t have people coming into her bar just to escape the rain, her seats were reserved for real customers. She sat with us at our table and poured us glasses of cordial and we all smoked cigarettes and chatted. She told us that she had left her heart at the gate to the Fjords of Norway. She said that she had been trying to get back there ever since, not to reclaim her heart, because she knew that was impossible, but in hopes that she could simply reconnect with it for a bit.

This is how I felt when I finally saw the Cliffs of Moher. Everyone who has ever been to Ireland will tell you that you have to see the Cliffs of Moher. When hearing statements like this, I personally always think, “Okay, sure, I’ll see them.” In this case everyone was right.

I was on a guided bus tour that took us to the Cliffs. From the parking lot you can go right or left, each promising an excellent and different view. I chose to go right, which led me first to the remnants of an ancient stone watch tower, which was amazing in itself. I continued on along the path looking down amazed, every five feet. The views were spectacular, but I continued on, waiting for that one scene that causes everyone who has ever been there to tell me that I have to go there. My traveling companion and I finally reach a sign that says “from this point on, you are entering a private farm. Enter at your own risk and we are not liable for any accident, injury or death.” We continued.

The path had now become a tiny dirt path atop the Cliffs. It was narrow and there was no fence between myself and the more than 500 ft. drop to the wild Atlantic Ocean. I was experience feelings that I very rarely feel when on an adventure. I was scared and nervous and excited and in awe, all at the same time. The Cliffs, at their highest point, provide a drop off of over 700 ft, directly to a rocky ocean below. The tiny dirt path finally led us to a set of very old stone steps. I couldn’t go down. I was stuck. I wanted to more than anything in the world, but I couldn’t. He went and when he came back up, I knew that I would regret it for the  rest of my life if I could not muster the courage to get my ass down those steps.

I went. I had to. I am so glad that I did. I was standing on this magnificent plateau looking down hundreds of feet to the Atlantic Ocean. I was surrounded by the clearest water and the tallest Cliffs I have ever seen and it was one of those moments in time. One of those moments when you are reminded that the world is so vast and that you are so small and comfortability should never be an option. I sat and I breathed in the cool fresh air and I felt a piece of my heart leave my body and decide to stay forever, right there atop the Cliffs of Moher.

. Cliffs of Moher Amazing

I will have to go back there one day, not to reclaim my heart, because I know that is impossible, but to simply reconnect with it for a bit.