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// On all the places I’ve been and never been to


When I think of the word TRAVEL, I think of a yellow-y map of the world in Martina’s bedroom, stuck with blue-tack on the wall (she never framed it, maybe she will now in her new house in France).

The windscreen of a car, with the rearview mirror hanging in the middle, also comes to my mind.
It was the first time I saw New York’ skyline, appearing at the right of my taxi seat.
The picture I took of it, the overexposed corner (the Sun).

A picture I asked a fellow tourist to take of me at the top of the Rockefeller Centre. I am giving my back to the camera, you can only see my white t-shirt, a massive head of wavy bleached blonde hair and, very clearly unraveling down below, Central Park and the Upper East and West Sides.

Daunt Books in Marylebone, “a bookshop for travelers”, or so it says on the bookmark the sales assistant slid into my Joan Didion book at the till. Joan Didion herself, and her recount of the thousands of road trips she embarked on.

Cars, a hella lot of cars.
Car windows, car seats, car smells.
Cigarettes in cars, music played in cars, pictures taken in cars. Crumbles in cars.

A mattress fit at the back of my father’s car (an Opel station wagon), which he had let in by putting the rear seats down, where I slept one night aged six. My mother reading comics out loud to me while he drove us to the beach. We would get there at dawn, he would step out of the car and light a cigarette gazing out into the sea, pink from the reflection of the sky the moment right before it sees the first sun ray. We had cappuccino and hot croissants.

The desert air in Tunis, hot and dry. My arm stretched outside of the window holding a beach bucket to “catch the wind”.

Narrow country roads in Ibiza, lined by low stone ledges instead of guardrails, olive trees instead of buildings, which I drove by with Giulia in the passenger seat one night last May. The orange our host Carmela (or was it Carmen?) gave us, left half-peeled on the windowsill.

A ferry from Naples to Palermo and sfogliatelle eaten on the deck at midnight (it was his birthday). Our hoodies up, his coral, mine white. The floor painted bright blue, the railings painted white. The blackest sky I have ever seen, and the sea, also black, both so black you could not see where one ended and the other started. There was no horizon to be figured out. Only the blue deck under our feet and the white icing sugar on our hands.

Flights. Flights booked. Canceled flights. Flights to places I had never been to, and flights to the one place I will always want to return to. Trains and buses and flights and cars I took to forgive myself, and those I took to forget others.

This is what comes to my mind when I think of the word “travel”.
Have I ever even traveled? Or have I just been on holiday? Does it even matter?

But the dearest images of travel I have are those of the travels I haven’t taken.

I am in the passenger’s seat, we have been driving for four hours down the same straight road, the mountains slowly approaching towards us. We are in America, it’s one of the most cliche? images in the movies. “This is like in ‘Boyhood’ ”, I think. A car passes by in the other direction every half hour. All My Mistakes Were Made For You is playing from the playlist I have been perfecting for months before this trip.

I am running towards the Ocean on a beach in Portugal. I am in the market square in Marrakech having the soup my friend advised me not to have under any circumstance. I am on a train to Vladivostok. I am in Jordan.

I am in the countryside of Bordeaux drinking a glass of a very thick and heavy red wine. The room is dim lighted and we are all sitting at a large wooden table, exchanging memories of times gone too fast, but that felt unbelievably slow when while we were living them.

I am standing at what I can only imagine the end of the world look like, in a glacier in Iceland.
I can hardly see between my scarf wrapped high up to my cheeks and my hat fit down to my eyebrows.
I start crying. I cry for all the times I haven’t and for the too many times I have.

My daily horoscope keeps talking of these as times of transformation.
It’s October 2018.
I don’t know where I will be traveling next.
I just hope there’s good coffee.

Words and Images by Gaia De Siena

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