“BELT OFF, EMPTY POCKETS, TYPEWRITER IN A SEPARATE TRAY,”
The security officials bark across airport tiles. At the other sides of the scanners I collect the typewriter, clip it within my pack’s interior, pull taught the straps, flip blanket over the machine, books, nuts and zip the whole pack shut, re-clipping and re-strapping the exterior.
They never weigh my hand luggage. If they did it would be over 10kg. But they don’t. I struggle belt back through trouser loops, hoist the pack, keep on through airport. People in makeup masks swivel from shops to puncture my peace with request I purchase what their brands call progress. I breathe through my nose into my pelvis.
The typewriter is to write stories for people in the streets of Spain. I get the adventure tingles across the back of my neck.
Soon I will have no shoes on and walk cobbled streets and forest paths, wound round by flowers.
Soon there will be bright fruits in trees and a town spilling light over water.
Soon time will be as big as the sky.
It is one week on, in Spain, and at 3pm the morning is beginning to end. The fire had been made, the percolator whistled, the fruit chunked. Books have been read, a waterfall surrendered to, the body scrubbed in soap, set in sun, and scribbled with sunscreen.
I’m writing stories for strangers in the street on my typewriter now. My signs say ‘Suggest any subject, I’ll write you a story. Donate what you choose.’ I write onto A5 paper. Each story will take me ten minutes, half an hour: there is no normally, everything depends. I have a portable AFrame, signs detailing my services, paper, gold envelopes, books and my stickers. Water bottle. Dark chocolate. I take my shoes off and stuff my pack with them and an overshirt. The pack functions as a desk. The typewriter sits on top and me behind it. My office is open. I feel at home.
Today my office is very sunny. I shift to the shade of a tree. A jewelry seller from Poland hands me half an orange to make friends.
“A story about Spain please,” asks one of my first customers.
I say, “Spain? Just Spain?”
“Just Spain, is that alright?”
I forget everything and begin to write:
SPAIN (Just Spain)
“Explains itself so it does when you land here does Spain. Three hand gestures you see soon as you get into your first Spanish town are enough to make you feel at ease. Once again part of the Spanish breeze.”
The day was fluorescent pinks and bubble gum greens. The sun preached down to the flowers, and the flowers aspired towards it. Bird’s chirps raced the river’s slurps and its spurts of crystal infinities. Between the merging and the growing were hidden languid divinities.
“Explains itself, does Spain. Soon as you land here you’re soaked with its bright refrains. Conversations gain on conversations and confidences conjoin. What is made of the day is enjoyed and spread as common coin.”
Day gained upon day, and the spaces grew bigger.
@petitprance, ‘16 APR, Granada.
I feel at home.
Writing in the street is different from place to place, just as what’s cheap and good to eat becomes different, just as what is good to drink becomes different in the bars. Sometimes I think I am a different person when I go to different places. My English changes. My gestures change.
There was a walnut-wrinkled professor at University who found sentences that he liked in the letters of Keats and turned them into poems:
Goes home To myself.”
April has so many flowers in Granada, but it is the million scatters of yellow, the purpled stars, the mandelas of whites, the folds of red, that steal my heart.
Where are the stolen hearts taken? What is that attraction beyond attraction? No smoke screens or forced silences. The greatest relief. An honesty you forgot you owned. Revealed.
If my self is a mirror. Southern Spain is a glad place to let myself reflect.
The town is home to other street performers. Most live in a camp in the nature or in a squat in town.
Will plays drums in the street. He makes his instruments from buckets, pans and spoons. He finds these in the bins. Or others find, and bring them to him. Or he raids kitchens. He would deny that. He plays all over Europe. He hitches. Or takes a ride share. Or hops a train. He got thrown off a train once. That was the only time he had actually paid the ticket. Got drunk. His street performance is loud and boisterous. Playing drums. The police don’t appreciate it. They patrol in a loop in this town. Their circuit takes forty minutes. They can confiscate your instruments. You can’t make your living without your instruments. Will has his clearance routine down to seven seconds he reckons. Seven seconds after he sees the police, the entire drumkit and him are up the road.
I have not had to time a disassembly of my street writing desk. At its best, the undoing and redoing of the pack is like a meditation. Stroking out the straps, knowing where each object is or should be, using an exact economy of movement to make the necessary reconfiguration. Place things into cases: cases into places.
The bag gets repacked so many times throughout a day, that interacting with it becomes a ritual, and, when the landscape that the pack and you are moving through changes rapidly and always, the ritual you do with your pack makes it a companion and a comfort.
I am writing in the street with the typewriter, and they stand in front of me and ask me for a story about leaving:
What is it to leave? To make an acknowledgement that things have become stale is not so easy. To see the place without the sheen of newness and adventure that coated every corner months back. Sometimes can feel almost guilty. Is it a lack in you that bars the magic from baring itself again here? Can feel almost like a defeat, having won everything you wanted from a town, to feel this vacancy.
You have cloaked corners and squares in memories, which allow them nothing new. But when was it new? The feeling that you knew what was where and who was who grew slowly, then flew, folded into this. Thin. This place is old or you are old.
Then they broke their mold.
For to leave is to retrieve a sense of never knowing the crowings and callings of life. To leave is to embrace strife.
Enjoy the reprieve: leave: retrieve again yourself, ever new, forever becoming.
Petitprance.com, ‘16 APR, Granada.
Into a golden envelope their story goes. The title is typed onto it, and it is sealed with my sticker.
“We will open it on the plane. Eight months we’ve lived here. Now we return to Berlin.”
Later that night, the feeling descends that it is time for me to move on. There is a van waiting in Britain that I need to make into a home, that can become a bigger home than this pack i have carried for two years, with tarp and typewriter, hammock and not much else.
The pilot tells us that we are over an ocean. The window view is blankness. Occasionally abstract orange somehow, somewhere. Roar of air conditioning and whine of four hundred nostrils. I am nowhere but in a tube.
As I was leaving, the somber feeling that all the packing is finished with, nothing more to do but face a departure into the unknown soared into a melancholy. I put down my pack, unclipped the typewriter from the interior and wrote, what became this note, left for the next nomad who will find their way to that cave i’d made home for two weeks:
Home is a place you carry with you,
Home is a practice you extend,
Home lets others into the best parts of you,
and here can be home. Just as there had been, and the next place will be, here can always be home.
Luke Winter travels the world writing stories for strangers on his typewriter. He has just published his first book. www.petitprance.com