Sunday, July 6, 2008

Day 44

Day 44, July 6th, 2008, Buenos Aires, Argentina

I have journeyed 44 years on this planet, 44 days on this journey alone. I have many miles to go before my time here is over, I think. As I look back at the major turning points along the journey; the day I left home, the day my son was born, the day I first knew I needed help with something, the day I learned the world was not about me, and more, I see them so very clearly. They are moments of deep connection with others, with the Universe, with the woman I want to be. This is one of those moments. I feel the sun shining on the values I hold closest to my heart:






I am scared sometimes. In some of these moments Jimmy gets to see me at my worst. He is kind and understanding, patient. He knows I am trying. I have some adjustments to make (you think?) and they will be fun if I let them be. If I will hold to those 5 things, the final one most of all, I will walk this journey with my head held high and my heart full of hope.

Tonight Jimmy, in his wisdom & joyful love, shared a glass of wine with me and danced me around the living room. The toast he asked me for came easily.
“To the building blocks of a new life; Hope, Trust, Laughter & Love” One more dance around this strange living room in a strange country and then off to our quiet corners to process the day we both go.

My gift from Jimmy today is a journal to replace the one I mailed yesterday from Washington to my son Alex. The name of that journal was,

Satyagraha: Holding Firmly to the Truth - What I learned in 44 days on the road from San Diego to Buenos Aires & the 44 years before that

That journal was filled, page by page, with the things I think I know. It is my prayer that in it I have given my son a gift that will remind him who I am, where he comes from, the stuff he is made of, and more than any of that, how much I love him. That I will always be here with him, no matter how many miles separate us.

This new one will be filled with new information, new perspectives. It will be a place to process the new things I’m learning about the new place I’m living and the new people I am coming to know and love.

Jimmy and I both played with words today as we got used to saying things like we “live in Buenos Aires.” We walked the streets of the city, bought minutes for our phone, went to the grocery store (which we found closed) and found a couple of restaurants we’ll go back to, certainly. We made a plan for tomorrow, day 45. In 4 days I will turn 45. I know this year, as I knew last year on my birthday, will be an amazing year. I wonder if I will ever have another birthday when I do not think that....

Annie Ory
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Love is all there is, nothing else is real....

THE 44TH DAY...and the Rabbit Hole

Our red eye flight from DC touched down sometime around 9am this morning. The time difference from the East Coast is minimal (only 1 hour ahead of New York), however that was the easiest of the things that came with our arrival here. Over the course of the last 44 days Annie and I have gotten used to the change in scenery, the change of living quarters, the change of people. When it came down to it though, in a sense, we were always home, traveling within the country our roots have been burrowed in for so long. Where maybe we were dancing around the rabbit hole before, today I feel like we have truly fallen in.

What does it mean to wake up in a new country, a new world and simultaneously have the word 'vacation' completely absent from the definition of what we're doing. For me it is an amazingly beautiful and overwhelming idea to try to initially grasp. The pictures paints itself something like this: We step off the plane into Argentina, our new home, and the language is not our native tongue. We're in the Southern Hemisphere and suddenly we find ourselves in a winter climate, mild may it be, yet still the sun goes down now at 6pm rather than the late evening like we had been accustomed to. The setting of the sun brings a wind that holds an eye-opening bite and most likely any store or product we took comfort in the day before is now non-existent. All of our friends and family are thousands of miles away and we have no idea when we will see any of them again. Nearly every street is new and my mind holds no memory of which direction the sun will rise on us tomorrow. But it will rise. And that I take comfort in.

"Inhale. Exhale.," says the chalkboard at the restaurant we ate at this evening. We scribble it down in a notebook as if it was some great advice we must not forget, passed on not from a chalkboard hanging on a brick wall in a cafe, but rather from some wise sage whose old gray beard nearly touches the floor. Regardless of where it came from, we heed the advice along with a solid serving of patience and laughter, our two most powerful tools.

All of it makes things easier. As the day draws to an end for us here in this enormous city, I don't feel as small as I did earlier. And for a brief moment my humbleness flickers off, and I wonder if this place is big enough to hold me, and all that Annie and I want to create here together.

For as long as I can remember I've dreamt of the "rabbit hole", and wondered what it would be like to live there. I cannot begin to explain what it means that tomorrow, for the first time in my life, I will wake up there and have it be my new address.

Peace and love,
Danko in Wonderland

Currently reading:
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death
by Jean-Dominique Bauby

Saturday, July 5, 2008

My Farewell to America~

Day 43 Washington DC, July 5th~

My mother was born on the 4th of July. When she was a little girl they had a rule in her family that no one was to tell Marie the fireworks were not for her. Last night as the fireworks lit up the sky over the capital of our nation I thought of that an
d for a moment it felt like they were for us. For Jimmy and I, as we leave for another country where the 4th of July is just another day.

When we went to the national art museum and the national portrait museum I thought, and said aloud, as I always do when I am in a Smithsonian National Museum, “This painting is mine. I own it.” Jimmy laughed but it’s true. All the art and historical artifacts in the national museums and archives are mine. They are yours too. We own them because we are citizens of this nation and they are national treasures. If you have never been to Washington DC this alone is reason enough to come. The feeling you have when you walk in to a National Museum and walk right past the front desk without paying a dime is very special. Even the lockers they make you put your big bags in cost a quarter to rent, but when you come back and put the key back in, it gives you your quarter back. It’s free because we own it already. We pay for it with our taxes, we pay for it when serve in the military, we pay for it when we vote. The painting we were looking at belongs to me because I am an American.

This morning Jimmy and I got up, ate breakfast and headed over to the mall to visit the Lincoln Memorial. He didn’t get to see all the things about DC that are interesting or moving but I insisted we not leave DC without his seeing this one thing. It is a gorgeous structure, commanding your attention. The sculpture of Abraham Lincoln is huge and imposing. He sits in silent meditation and I am always deeply moved by this image of the president I most respect in our nation’s history. The words carved on the walls of the memorial are powerful reminders of a president who was torn apart by the war he felt he had no choice other than to lead his nation into. Abraham Lincoln knew that war had to come. He knew that the only way to avert it was to deny the freedom and equality our nation stood for. He chose to step forward and hold true to those values. He worked hard not to judge and to simply walk a true path toward what he prayed daily would be a time of peace and healing for a nation made whole by the sacrifices of men who fought and died for those values.

As we leave America today I feel a deep sadness because we have strayed so far from the nation we once were. The president who sits in the Oval today is not a man who leads us in this war nor do I imagine he weeps for the young men who die on either side of it. Still, those values live in this nation. I know that is true because at 8:30 in the morning amidst the debris of yesterdays celebrations, around barricades, through the drizzling rain, hundreds of people walked the steps with Jimmy and I to the top of the memorial to gaze at the strong visage of the man who sacrificed all so that we could live in the warm sunshine of freedom and equality.

Think. Speak. Act. Vote.

DAY 43 - Leaving on a Jet Plane

Well here we go. We leave the US today. Under a warm East Coast drizzle, we saw the fireworks bloom over the city last night. As they echoed off the quiet empty buildings and streets we stood by, I stopped and stared. Mesmerized as always by color. Afterwards we sat and ate in the rain at DC Cafe, a little hole in wall Lebanese/Syrian restaurant (amazing food). We took pause in waning wet moments of our last night here.

In a few short hours we will board a plane with a one way ticket that leaves this continent. That's a thought I haven't really been able to grasp yet. A quote by Mark Twain runs through my mind that gives me peace. "Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand." And so I leave with a smile.

Keep your eyes open for my emails, and for the "gorilla sticker". I tagged the thing every place we stopped over the course of the last 44 days. I'll keep you in the loop with how things are going for us in Buenos Aires. I've been dying to get back to painting again so as soon as I have some work and a website, I'll send them your way. Don't be a stranger.

Catch you on flip side. Take care. Take chances. Give more than you take, but don't give up.

Peace and Love,
Jimmy Danko

Currently reading:
My plane ticket to see what gate were at.

Currently listening to:

What a Day by Greg Laswell

Current Daydream:

The next time I step foot in our country I will be walking on the soil of a nation that ceases to be at war.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Day 41 - Washington DC - The end of the line...


After 15 states, 41 days and over 5000 miles on the road, we approach our final day in the US.

A silence floats across our hotel room for me,
and a wonder permeates my thoughts.
It's 1am.
I stood outside the White House today,
and amidst hundreds of portraits at the museum.
So much to take in.
With each answer comes 5 more questions.
All the words that come to my mind seem so small.
I sit here forever changed by a drive across the country.
I glance down at my forearm and the tattoo I got at the beginning of the trip:
It means "holding firmly to the truth."
We leave soon and that's what feels most right to hold in my mind.
The truth.

Tomorrow = fireworks. I can't wait....

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Last Stop On The Train~

July 2nd, Day 40, Philadelphia to Washington DC

Another drive brings us to our final stop before we leave the United States. Philadelphia was one of my favorite stops on our trip and it’s hard to even describe why. We didn’t do that much but my experience of the city was rich and warm. My friend Harvey lives there with his partner Kevin and their son Evan. After a long hot drive from Boston we had iced water on the cooling roof of their brownstone and watched Evan play way past his bedtime.

The next morning Jimmy and I walked around the city for a while. We stopped to see the Liberty Bell, which we now refer to as “The Broke Assed Bell That Probably Didn’t Even Ring On Any Special Days Because It Broke Coming Over From England & The Tower They Kept It In Was Falling Down On Independence Day”. We saw it nonetheless. We walked until we got tired and then rented bikes and rode around the city. We rode over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge into New Jersey. We ate Philly Cheesesteaks with fried onions and Cheese Whiz on them, and onion rings, for lunch. We had dinner at a great sushi place.

Yesterday we left our apartment in Olde City and while Jimmy rode around taking photographs of the amazing, well, old city, I rode over to the oldest Bikram yoga studio on the East Coast. It smells like the oldest studio. Really. It also has great teachers and I had a great yoga class. We had lunch and hung out and rested until it was time to go to dinner, at the same sushi place, with Harvey and his boys. We talked, walked down the street for ice cream and a martini later were asleep in our loft.

This morning we got up early and packed and on the way out of town stopped at the Philadelphia Art Museum. I saw some amazing things and enjoyed looking at art with my favorite artist. We hit the road in time to make DC for sushi (I’m noticing a trend here;)~ and are now settling in to our last hotel.

Tomorrow we’ll head out to explore the Capitol of the country we are leaving and likely have dinner with another friend. Maybe we’ll venture out for something besides sushi;)~ As we settle in to this final stop I find myself antsy. It is a nervous energy that leaves me tossing in bed and dreaming of days to come in another place. I have to remind myself to stay here in this moment. We have some adventures left to have here before the grand adventure of a new life in a new country begins.