“When will you realize… Vienna waits for you?”
— Billy Joel, “Vienna”
Vienna. That’s where I am right now. To be more specific, I’m sat alone in a flat in a supposedly hip neighborhood, trying to decide whether I want to write or fall back asleep. I’ve been here since this morning, yet I haven’t seen any more of the city than the bus into town and my walk to the supermarket allowed. I feel a bit guilty about that, wasting a day. But I am exhausted.
The last week has been a whirlwind. I absolutely love meeting people while traveling—it’s one of the reasons I stay in hostels— and I find that the people I get to know tend to be cooler than the places I visit. The thing about making fast friends, though, is that I don’t have much time for myself. I’m only going to be with them for x number of hours, days, and then I’ll likely never see them again, which is a sad reality in itself. The constant on-the-go nature of traveling and meeting people lends itself to early mornings and late nights, and that lends itself to me being absolutely knackered. It’s caught up to me by now, the rush and rigor of it all, and I’m looking forward to having a room and flat to myself for a few days, to rest and do my own thing before heading to a hostel in Krakow where I likely won’t be resting much at all.
I’m sure the idea of being completely alone for four days would frighten some people, but I’ve always enjoyed solitude. It gives me a chance to think, to reflect, to recharge every once in awhile. I’ve become more of a people person again over the last few years, but I still appreciate the value of being alone. The windows are open here, and I can hear the rush of cars outside, the wind blowing in and stirring about, and my own thoughts. Despite my tiredness, I feel peacefully content.
Today I had a nap at three o’clock, only to wake up at ten and still feel tired. Today I’ve eaten about three quarters of a wedge of brie cheese, and most of a large bag of peanut m&m’s, and I don’t feel fat. I don’t feel shame or guilt. Either I’m too tired, or I’ve really come a long way—probably a combination of both. Today I talked to my dad for the first time in a long while, since I left the States. Today I was reminded what it is like to feel like a foreigner, after nearly a week of feeling like I fit in, like I belonged. I didn’t realize how at home I felt in Scotland, surrounded by wonderful, English-speaking humans, until I arrived in Austria and remembered I know next to no German and have very little idea of what I’m even doing here. The weather is shite in the UK, but the people are good. And their sense of humor is even better. In a strange way, I feel like I should’ve been born British. I have yet to meet one I don’t like, and the Isles are one of the few places I’ve traveled to that I click with enough to think “I want to live here.” Well, if not for the terrible weather, that is.
I’ve been listening to a lot of Bon Iver the past few days. His music is mellow and haunting: the perfect soundtrack for the rolling hills and mist of the Scottish Highlands. His lyrics don’t seem to make much sense until you listen to them, until you inhale and exhale and sigh along with them. The instrumentals. And his voice, my God.
Here are a few lyrics from my favorite songs.
“aiming and it sunk and we were drunk and we had fleshed it out
nose up in the globes, you never know if you are passing out”
“So it’s storming on the lake
Little waves our bodies break
There’s a fire going out
But there’s really nothing to the south
Swollen orange and light let through
Your one piece swimmer stuck to you”
“But what do you lose to concede?
And yes it’s hard to believe
When ’em sold for your sleeves
Just come off of your kneel
Please, please, please
I can admit to conceal
No, that’s not how that’s supposed to feel
(It’s not for broader appeal)
Fuck the fashion of it, dear”
“And I told you to be patient
And I told you to be fine
And I told you to be balanced
And I told you to be kind
And in the morning I’ll be with you
But it will be a different kind
And I’ll be holding all the tickets
And you’ll be owning all the fines”
“Sea and the rock below
Cocked to the undertow
Bones blood and teeth erode
They will be crashing low
Wings wouldn’t help you
Wings wouldn’t help you… down
Down fills the ground, gravity’s proud”
“There’s a black crow sitting across from me;
His wiry legs are crossed
And he’s dangling my keys he even fakes a toss
Whatever could it be that has brought me to this loss?”
“Is the company stalling?
We had what we wanted: your eyes
(When we leave this room it’s gone)
With no word from the former
I’d be happy as hell, if you stayed for tea
(I know so well that this is all there is)
This is how we grow now, woman
A child ignored
These will just be places to me now
The foreman is down
(When we leave this room it’s gone)
We’re rising the stairs
i FIND GOD
AND RELIGIONS, TOO…
Staying at the Ace Hotel
If the calm would allow
Then I would just be floating to you now
It would make me pass to let it pass on
I’m climbing the dash, that skin”
Hands down, one of my favorite artists. If you read those lyrics and are thinking, “what the f*ck,” then go listen to the songs and I think you’ll understand the magic I’ve described.
Also, these two sets of lyrics have been in my head this evening, along with Billy Joel’s “Vienna,” which I’m convinced was written about me because it is so accurate.
“May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young”
— Bob Dylan, “Forever Young”
“Look at the stars,
Look how they shine for you,
And everything you do”
— Coldplay, “Yellow”
I think there might not be anything more magical in this world than the night sky, a sky full of stars.
But enough with lyrics for now. Although I pondered a lot whilst on the long bus rides during my highlands tour, and wrote several posts in my head while doing so, I am running out of steam (and brain power) for the night and will have to come back to them, either here or in my journal.
Thank you, J, for the title.