05. Last minute heart
Sitting on a vintage light brown armchair, I stare at a magnificent shiny black horse riding in front of me.
Soft mane billowing in the wind; nostrils rhythmically expanded to ease the breathing.
Waiting for an attendant to sort my debit card, and being mesmerized by those furry waves projected onto a few seconds video loop, I just think that what made me pick Lloyds among other London banks two years ago was that black horse.
I’ve never fully investigated the profound reasons why. However, my inner seismograph has always reached its emotional peak when being in contact with the animal terrain.
Since I was a child, from what I remember.
Animals are one of the most powerful emotional factors which bring me – along with many others – to make decisions even on rational matters, like choosing a bank, and it seems that also marketers know this human herd – which I belong to – very well.
Not without pleasure, I admit that I’m a very well organised last minute planner.
Debit card sorted. Sterling exchanged. Travel insurance bought. Boarding pass printed. Luggage tests, done. Prices and timetables of private cars, taxis, bikes, boats, buses and planes I would step onto carefully checked. Cost of food and drinks analysed and daily rationed as if going to live alone in the belly of a submarine for two weeks.
Vietnam is coming closer.
The predictable has been predicted. The unexpected has been speculated and virtually solved with plans B and C, which include lie, lie, lie – should I miss the flight – and pretend to have gone there in any case.
However, what I cannot predict is my emotional collision with the new land.
My heart is sick of me. I’m pushing it to the boundaries.
I feel like a meteorite – broken away from Planet Fear – prepared to get burned.
I know. Thousands of people travel alone every day; those of all ages and for the most diverse reasons. Adventure, challenge, isolation, meditation, a new life, or perhaps just fun and a summer love at the end of the world.
Instead, I want to melt into the ground, abandon myself to the evanescence of the deepest invisibility. Become nobody in the land of nowhere.
Considering that I feel quite clumsy even when trying to cross the road, this trip to Vietnam is going to become challenging.
I’ve always needed someone who guards my steps whilst my eyes stare at the stars.
Vietnam and me.
After anecdotes about my need for a proper surveillance, friends have started picturing some scary scenarios in their minds.
Here in London, they cannot hide concern behind their endorsement.
My friends in Italy are terrified. Their words are full of recommendations.
The absolute Italian drama reaches its acme through my mother’s words; resigned to the evidence of my inevitable departure – eventually – she feels the sudden urge to call the Farnesina. “Not yet,” I say. “Just wait for me to disappear, at least.”
They all agree on the same point though.
They would never go either to Vietnam or anywhere else alone.
Brave, crazy, inconsiderate, naive.
Unconventional, confident, adventurous, free.
It’s curious how I look through my friends’ lenses.
Each one is unique in his or her way of holding the friendship wand.
Each one fulfils a specific requirement and contributes to filling an emotional rupture either shuffling my thoughts, giving me a shake or wrapping my heart with balmy words.
Isn’t it also true that friends look like the Justice Goddess, blindfolded, the scales softly held with two fingers, and final sentences undoubtedly reliable and with no margin of error in our eyes?
I tell my friends not to worry about me though.
After all, I’m not a risk-taker. I’m just a spring Argonaut in search of a harbour where to find some rest, placate my inner turmoil, reset the mind, far from the commodities of a common tongue, familiar traits and habits, far from the solace of caring voices and reassuring gestures.
I ask the new land to open its arms and embrace what my eyes find so hard to contain. My sunken love.
Take a look at the whole Vietnam Photo Book here