Thursday, September 02, 2010

On the road again

I've just moved out of my flat in Santiago, a place which has been my home, when not on the road, for the last three years, and has been a truly wonderful place to live, with a kitchen which could accommodate even my most ridiculous dinners, with rooms to house many friends and couchsurfers, with a view of an amazing palette of greens and wide skies, looking out towards the setting sun.

I've had a friend living with me for the last few weeks while she finds a place of her own, but last night I asked to be alone. I arrived in the flat three years ago, alone, without a bed to sleep on, without memories or knowledge of what life had in store for the next era of my life, and I rather wanted my last night to be alone there as well, sitting, thinking about the last thousand days, about the dinners and friends who've come to eat and stay, about the 120 or so couchsurfers from almost 30 countries who have come into my life for just a few days, to share their stories and to hear tales of the universe, of life in China, of crazy meals and lost days, of a life in research, of what we know and what we don't know. The number of art's students who now have a basic knowledge of the holographic principle is non-negligible, thanks largely to these walls in el Calle Romero Donallo. I wanted to think about the work I've done in this flat, of where I've come since leaving China, of the papers I've written and the papers I almost wrote, of the new collaborations, of the arguments, heated and impassioned which I've had, and which have increased my understanding, or decreased my misunderstanding of the field, of the time spent silent and motionless on the sofa, trying to play mathematical tricks to solve a problem,  of the nights where I couldn't sleep, because every time I started drifting off, mathematica code would stream across my visual field and I would jump out of bed, only to realise that my idea was ludicrous, or not. I wanted to remember the kimchi making parties with crowds of Korean friends coming round to get their taste of home, of the dumpling evenings where a bunch of friends would be put to use in a production line around the dining table, filling jaozi after jaozi with scallions and pork, of the sushi, paella and pulpo lunches where we would take advantage of the wealth of seafood off the Galician coast...and so much more.

This isn't my farewell to Santiago, but I will be here for only another two weeks before Christmas and on the road the rest of the time, at conferences and programs, and so it didn't seem worthwhile to keep the flat. My belongings, boxed and labeled, are taking up most of the spare room of a friend's flat, for the time being, until I send them off to Munich some time before December. My life is temporarily reduced to a rucksack of clothes and a bag with my notebook, my laptop and my camera. The rest of my belongings will sit in silence, enshrouded in cardboard and tape for the next few weeks. This minimisation is something I rather like, though I feel there is more I could do without.

For now I'm waiting to take a train, to catch a bus, to take a plane to England where I'm off to a wedding this weekend, before flying straight on to Vienna where I'll spend two weeks at a school on applications of AdS/CFT to the quark gluon plasma, a subject that I haven't worked actively on this year but which I hope to get back into over the coming weeks. There are still some ideas from last Christmas that one of my collaborators has reignited and I hope to give a push to as soon as possible.

So, for now I say goodbye to my home in Romero Donallo, to the library which has been my home from home over the last two weeks where I've been calculating furiously, to the cafe which has been keeping me well caffeinated and whose waiters would greet me with a sly grin every time I popped in for another giant mug of cortado upon cortado, to the swimming pool which has cleansed my mind every few days and has almost certainly saved me from complete melt-down, while working late into the night, and of course to friends, who I'll be seeing again in a few weeks time when back for the penultimate time, just before heading off to China.

1 comment:

toomanytribbles said...

and so we turn to another chapter in jonstraveladventures.