I’ve been in Ethiopia for almost two weeks now. It’s been a delicious downtime from constant traveling up to this point – a chance to stop thinking about Cairo, about endings, about the fact that nothing lasts forever. But this morning it will be time to move on. To Metema at the edge of Ethiopia and on into Sudan to write the closing chapters in this journey.
I will have stories and memories to share for an age. So much has happened, so many things seen, places been, new ideas of myself learned. So taken up in the changing scenery, changing Richard, that I had forgotten that it would not be forever. Cairo and my return, albeit to a changed and invigorating life, was an abstract concept, whose bittersweet final moment was something I had only vaguely considered in the quiet times on the journey beforehand.
Now it is real. Inevitable. Standing in the desert two borders away, I will be there and all of this will be over. More powerfully than on any journey I have ever been on before, I can imagine the bittersweet joy of finally seeing Cairo in the distance. Elated at having won out, having made it all these miles and tales since Cape Town. Yet knowing that this story which seems to now stretch forever behind me will have finally ended, possibly never to be repeated – certainly never again in the manner it has unfolded around me these days.
It will end when I decide to leave this self behind in that place made only of memories. That prison for all things exotic
And as I push on, determined, I want to save some of that determination for something else. For all of those times I can remember having returned heartbroken at the loss of the self I am when I travel. For all of the times that the magic of the new, the unexpected, has been dusted off at the doorstep and left like a pair of fondly-remembered boots – no longer used.
I’ll save some of the determination that will take traveling Richard through the deserts of Sudan, to take traveling Richard into the life of other Richard. My journey will not, in a way, end in Cairo at all.
It will end when I decide to leave this self behind in that place made only of memories. That prison for all things exotic, all things other. All things that it’s just too much to grow to accommodate in ourselves. I can see that now, but for once, from the other side of the looking glass – where I am the one to be left behind in the stories.
I say no more.