Monday, October 13, 2008

Temporary Amnesia

This weekend, Mr. Incredible was in Prague, and, regretting that the whole time I lived in Berlin I'd never gone, I seized the chance at a 38-euro round-trip from Berlin. It meant a 6 AM train on Saturday morning, but no matter. I had no idea the trip between where the train met the river south of Dresden, through to the industrial areas north of Prague was so beautiful. As it was still early leaving Dresden, waves of mist were rising from the Elbe, spreading over river-side fields that were still green, with the sun was doing its best to break through, adding the slightest tint to the fall colors just showing through the mist, yellows and burnt oranges, and the occasional shocking red, set off by the darker hues of the evergreens. The old-style barns offered a lovely contrast in the wistful light, with the dark-painted beams criss-crossing light yellows and creams. None of these are shots I could take from a moving train in such tricky light, so I'll have to satisfy myself with posting a couple of shots of a beautiful, balmy Prague weekend with Kafka's castle rising about the tree-lined river.

Though I arrived before noon, we burned a few too many daylight hours attending to our baser instincts. But all was not lost as by the time we sauntered through old town and crossed the river, heading toward Prague castle, the sun was setting and a stiff mist was rising. As someone who so adores Kafka, I can't imagine any better introduction to the castle. Sadly, the path was well paved with stairs and well-cut stones, but I tried mightily to imagine large rough cobblestones, oxen-drawn carts, and a mass of vendors, drivers, and servicepeople milling about. The fact that I was in the final stages of a bad flu, with traces of fever, greatly helped set the scene.

Much later that night, finalizing that tricky negotiation from extreme fatigue to untroubled sleep, I returned to consciousness with that sensation that happens every so often (most recently in New York after having lived in Spain only a short time), of having simply no idea where I was. I was alone in the room (Mr. Incredible having stepped out), and I knew right away that I was in a Hilton, which to me generally feels like a work trip back in California, making things even tougher to figure out. Maybe this feeling is particularly acute as a function of being on a trip several stages removed from whatever passes as "home" at the current time. Maybe it's a function of the restlessness that seems to define my post-normal life, but this time there was something additional. I not only had no idea where I was, but I had no idea WHO I was. Strangely, I found this not so much terrifying, as more than anything, intriguing. For a few short seconds, I was waiting to find out my exact identity, and the options were completely open. Memory flooded back quite soon, with no time to speculate how it would have felt to be, say, Angela Merkel (shudder) or Angelina Jolie (hmmm). No need to look into any mirrors, as, having mentally recognized myself, I immediately went back to sleep.

No comments: