Over the next few days I continued to polish songs, write a little, etc. I’ve really started to warm to the idea of being a human jukebox – with a placard or something – but that would need more supplies than are easy to carry about.. but perhaps when I’ve traveled enough that I settle in a place more than a week. Every day new people come in, most of them stumbling upon this paradise that you can’t book online, with no staff, that sustains itself entirely with human decency – Roar cant possibly run the whole thing (though he does his best, for sure) so those staying help out with sweeping, keeping the place immaculate – everyone makes their bed when they leave, even!
My train cohorts left after one more night and I enjoyed the ensuing patches of silence. I continued to wake late and sleep late. I left the hostel only to draw, to write my letters or for walks. Though I felt a desire to see the white beaches and the Trollfjord, my way of traveling meant I felt just as happy simply relaxing where I was. One particularly gorgeous night, Roar told Russell, an incoming Australian photographer, that the light was bound to be gorgeous. Russell retired after being deterred by a general misty murk, but I perservered and around three or four in the morning…
It’d been a very rough time of faith for me, and I wandered around the mountain top praying and talking – sometimes it felt like I was talking to myself, sometimes not – but just before I went to sleep I got a little direct and asked for a response. How do I deal with the lack of community, the lack of fellowship, my loneliness, my feeling that I’m missing out on time that could be spent growing close to a someone, now I’m across the globe from those closest to me? Now ECV and the other groups I was in believed strongly that God speaks in many ways, and I firmly believe what happened next was an answer. It came so immediately (the instant I opened my eyes) and seemed so aligned… Well I’ll just write it out and you tell me, hm?
From my journal: “A flock of birds headed right across my vision flying low, parallel to the sea, black against the burnt sky. Five of them, I think? One of them veers off at a right angle to fly away from me. Disappears into the mist. Two of the remaining birds pair up and fly on. The other two fall back and away from each other (one flying even lower, one soaring up) but continue on, albeit slower.
I blink and the one’s re-emerged from the mist, flying fast and low after the others – I think of Jonathan Livingtson Seagull. The last of the flock is almost behind the mountains blocking my sight to my right.
I focus again and three more birds are closing, large and fast in the same direction. They gain on the one lonesome bird, join him just at the edge of the mountain… and that’s it. No more birds. The air, which felt a strangely still and hushed – a little cooler, crisper yet muffled – moves again.”
Not long after the birds disappeared.
I’m determined to come back here. Maybe if I end up teaching I’ll take my summers here. After that gorgeous morning it rained without much pause for the rest of my stay. And still it was beautiful – the hostel never felt warmer. We had a lot of stragglers come stay to hide from the weather: a set of Brits from Cambridge I got along with very well, three Californians, three Italians. Now at first it felt odd being with Americans – somehow I felt they were invading my paradise, or something – but it went well.
It wasn’t quite this dark… but close.
Best of all, I made the acquaintance of a masters student from Chile/Brasil, Pablo. He finished undergrad with a degree in composition and speaks fluent Spanish, Portuguese, English, French, Italian and understands German. Phenomenal. It’s made me formulate a theory that musicians, by virtue of their highly attuned ears, are particularly adept at languages – Pontus in Sweden, Pablo, etc. We had an excellent time jamming together. There are two guitars and a mandolin that live at the hostel which we used to great effect – first with the two of us and one of the Brits, then the Americans, then the Italians. Most importantly, he’d brought his violin.
How I’d missed it! First I just soloed over some random chord progressions and songs with Pablo on guitar, but after he took a break I took his violin into the adjourning room and just went at it, making stuff up (sometimes starting with the Chaconne or Bruch or Ysaye or Butterfly Lover’s or Erbarme Dich but quickly moving to improvisation) for over an hour. There’s just something you can’t do singing or playing guitar that only the violin can satisfy. Some of those deeper emotions, the ones you can’t name and can’t voice and sometimes that you’re hardly aware of – those are what really need a violin. I played well. Better than I’ve played since I’ve played regularly, maybe because no one was around to judge.
When I returned to the kitchen/common room, the French lady who’d been staying a few nights was telling the Italians, who’d just checked in, “He’s a musician,” in a confiding tone of voice – like she was proud to be able to be acquianted with me. Stamsund was filled with these affirmations – made me think, maybe I could do music if I wanted to? The Americans encouraged me to try it as a job. Pablo complimented my ear. The Italians loved the beautiful sound of my guitar, which made up nicely for the snub it got in Oslo. We spent the rest of the night singing and playing – Francesco even taught me Nothing Else Matters.
And when I left the next morning I had a few minutes to pass before my bus, so I played a few songs in the adjourning room – and I’d hardly begun when two girls came in from the main room just to listen to me. I still feel awkward and undeserved of all the attention I get from females, but I sang them Libertà on discovering they were from France, and maybe it was the confidence or the the rest, or the rain, or the peace or the violin but I don’t think I’ve ever sung stronger.
For those of you who made it this far, here’s something funny to end on: people here peg me as much younger than I am. Leonard, in Edane (remember him?), pegged me at twelve. TWELVE. And the day before I left Stamsund a Bulgarian lady put me at “Fifteen… plus or minus three.” Sigh. Is it the hair?
Song of the Day: Libertà – Pep’s