Written in a cafe in Murcia, Spain. The sun is shining through clouds. There are citrus trees growing strong among the cold, urban sprawl.
A return to Europe and to my second home could not come soon enough. A return to some sort of normality was very much needed after a year of moving slowly, staccato, like a plastic dollar-store robot. I was making noises and shooting fire-danger sparks, but I wasn’t really getting anywhere, at least anywhere that felt like anywhere.
I always knew this trip was coming. It was the most natural decision in the world. After all, there’s been someone waiting for me on the other side of that globe. Bonica was waiting among the orange trees.
I left Adelaide last week with little fan-fair. I finished reading my book, ate dinner and then got dropped off at the airport without tears. I was expecting more drama, to be honest. But then again, what’s the need for theatrics?
The theatrics came later, in the form of hours of turbulence. My flight was rocked to and fro in some sort of sickening storm so that, despite my best efforts and the soothing qualities of the original Ghostbusters, sleep didn’t really have its way with me.
Thanking whatever god lived in that sky, I did eventually arrive, safe and sound if not a little shaken in Doha Airport, a much smaller affair than Dubai’s ridiculous display of wealth. There was some tension in that air, a sense that eyes were everywhere and with them suspicion. It was an effort to shake them off, to feel free to walk. Gold watches and consumer bullshit soon joined the eyes, until the pressure was too much. I sat down at the transfer gate and waited it out like a fever.
As I waited on the tarmac, onboard a sweaty bus with dozens of others, a great red sun began to rise. The huge, pink and orange orb rose slowly over the tails of the airplanes. The jungle of steel and oil woke up. Then we were off, leaving Doha behind.
The Third Airport
It was my turn to arrive.
We landed in Madrid’s main airport as the sun began to shine and evaporate that layer of dew left over from the night before. I passed through immigration, expecting to have it prove my worth with financial documents, letters of invitation and other tools of the bureaucratic nightmare, but I was simply waved through.
“How long are you staying?”
I climbed and descended a web of staircases, took a train and tramped down yellow hallways. It seemed to take years to walk through that mess of steel and rubber, but I was walking on clouds. You know that feeling, right? Your heart pounds through your chest so hard that it lifts you off your feet and stops the blood flow to your brain? Yeah, of course you do.
And then, out of nowhere, there were the doors… and there was Bonica. Everything else faded away. I forgot I was even in the Northern hemisphere. Clear the set. Lights off. Spotlight on.
It was our third reunion. The second in Spain. And it was… it was natural. It was normal. It was explosive in its own way, but not devastating. It was simply a restating of facts, a return to normality. The little, plastic dollar-store robot fired into life again.
I won’t write too much more about the trip back home after that. We stayed for a night in Madrid, one of my favourite cities on the planet, before heading back to Murcia via super-speed train and then mountainous, desert highways. What is really important to add to this story, to this point on the Electric Holy Road is a little bit of a love story.
The Long-Distance Thing
When I told people back home that I was heading to Spain to see my girlfriend, I always felt a slight pressure out normalise it. I’d say “she’s just moved back” even though she’d returned five months ago. I realise now that I shouldn’t have needed to. I shouldn’t have had to explain. The long-distance “thing” (and it’s always a “thing” to some people, like a monster hiding under the bed) works for me. It’s so much part of my life that I can’t even consider it something unusual anymore. Sure, it’s strange and sometimes hard, but I’ve never suffered something so worth it.
It’s a rare couple that gets to travel the world, that gets to have two sets of beautiful friends, two home cities with unique and beautiful character, two families. Time apart is hard, but the time together becomes a hundred times more precious. It flows differently, it flows like molten gold and glows orange. Time is enjoyed rather than consumed or killed. Walking down the street, hand in hand, becomes something impossibly beautiful… and the pain behind it makes you incredibly strong. It hardens you, turns you to precious diamonds. It softens you, makes you bleed and change shape. It makes you more empathetic and understanding, more positive and, above all, more hopeful for the future in which you don’t have to feel that pain anymore.
And soon the long-distance thing loses its power as a “thing”. It becomes an electrocuting, intense reality. The world becomes yours, together.
So that’s that for today. The Electric Holy Road has returned to Europe and so the adventure begins again… but, ya know, it never really ended, did it?