I miss feeling like a professional gypsy. I miss the creak of stairs under my feet; the smoothly sweep of banisters under my fingers as I glide from city to city, saying I have been here, returning my bath towel and room key to the front desk.
I miss the sweep of heat across our foreheads. embarking from a bus
a train, a car, a plane
onto land that has never felt the soles of our feet. the first flash of light and colour and smell
and then our instant process of assimilation. like chameleons.
(I always confuse that word with chrysanthemums.)
We sometimes do not speak on the metro (clinging to the handles, jolting, hips bumping as it sways along the tracks), hoping that if we do not open our mouths, the hungry eyes around us might believe we belong here; that they might assume (were we to open our mouths) that we would jabber the same language they do, that we too are eavesdropping on everyone else’s conversations.
I miss the easy hostel conversations
(where are you from, where have you been, where are you going?)
measuring faces by the dozen and have you been to the beach and did you like it?
do you know of any good restaurants around here
(where we can wear barefeet and draw napkin doodles and make ridiculous commentary about our fellow diners and
to casually accept that we are on a foreign continent?)
- but we don’t say that part,
afraid (maybe?) of how well these strangers wear travel, like a favourite pair of jeans or a faded t-shirt –
afraid (perhaps?) of how travel has permeated them with dust and stories, warm smiles and quick handshakes of welcome, thousands of facebook friends. of the way they may consider us
if we mention the wonder that still shocks us
when we see the turquoise ocean and the molten sky. the way we reach out to fill our hands with sand, holding it tightly. the bubbles that filtrate our chests, the way we grab at shoulders - look! look! - and scramble through our backpacks searching for perfume and necklaces, still trying to impress each city.
We must be worried that they might believe that travel is still
a bit too big for us,
still sits somewhat awkwardly on our shoulders, with a hem that needs to be
taken in a little.
We wouldn’t want that.
after all, we are professional gypsies.