Saturday, February 07, 1998

On a train to Lisbon

10:20 pm
I just sat down on the train headed for Lisbon. I will arrive in ten and 1/2 hours. I'm in the smoker's cabin, full of Portuguese, Africans, Spanish, etc… It's hot and smoky. 
I fell asleep around 2 o'clock this afternoon and when I woke up I had one of the worst stomach aches in my life, and it was accompanied by a minor anxiety attack. I was lying in bed, crouched over in pain, and as usual, my physical condition transformed the entire world, which suddenly took on its cold, indifferent side. I became afraid- afraid of leaving I suppose, but at the moment it manifested itself as a fear of life and the world. I wanted to be held, to be taken care of- I felt like a baby, in other words. I tried to tell myself to be "tough"- to be a man, but I realized that that isn't me- that with my ability to experience great joy at the smallest things comes a sensitivity to pain which causes bouts of depression. I just had to live through it, and sure enough after half and hour the pain subsided and I began to laugh at myself out loud. I realized that I could not have laughed like this while it was happening, since although I realized the absurdity of my tendency to overdramatize, the drama I create invades my whole being and therefore cannot be willed away. I went out with Carmen with my stomach still hurting but my spirit restored, so I was able to ignore the pain.
Just as I was sick the days before leaving L.A., I realize now that I create comfortable spaces for myself and fear leaving. Once a trip has begun though, I get settled and on course, and my anxiety passes, replaced by excitement  and wonder at what's to come. That is how I feel now- I have never been to Portugal and it has always had a somewhat mysterious ring to it. The fact that it's on the Spanish peninsula, but that it faces the ### Atlantic and the fact that I don't speak Portuguese despite its similarity to Spanish and Italian adds to this aura it has for me. I'm sure once I arrive it will seem normal, as everyplace does to a certain extent, but now it feels like I'm off to a strange, distant land.
Monday I would like to take a train by day along the coast and head slowly for Jerez. 
I called Sarah last night and left her a message to call me today, but she didn't. I'm sure she wan't alone, and although I have no right to be, I am jealous. It was my choice to leave, and I'm glad I did, so I have to deal with it…
The train is leaving the station.
I love trains- I guess I'm a hopeless romantic, but travelling by train seems so much more civilized than airplanes.

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