My stomach is a little too full of beer and I have discovered that hangovers cease to exist when you are constantly living in a hungover state. I’ve similarly learnt that drinking is the easiest way to get to know someone, and sometimes in more vivid detail then required.
Today marks my first week of solo travelling in what has been an almost six week expedition. To be frank, I didn’t realise it had been a week until I sorted through footage to compile for a video diary and realised there were two whole cities filled with videos of random people. So here we are, in Germany on a train from München to Köln. And here I am, in seat 51 with too much luggage, untamed eyebrows and frizzy hair. Very much alone, but not lonely.
There is the foreign sound of whispered German echoed throughout the train and a child that persists on screaming. I know if I was in Sydney I’d have had a ‘shit-load’ of it all but my patience is surprisingly improving. Hand-in-hand with this is my willingness to steer from plans and the safety of comforts. I’ve been told that these things are essential in ensuring I remain un-lonely so I try them with eagerness. Is it likely I have spent too much money in these endeavours? Very, but the money is never wasted. So I continue to wear a smile every time I pay far too much for a far inferior coffee knowing that I always enjoy the superior company.
There is some sort of code that all of us solo-travellers have signed and attested to. We know that there’s always someone ready to accept an invitation for a beer or kebab and that conversations can always be extensive before the sharing of a name is even necessary. We know that sharing about ourselves and learning about one another is a fail-proof conversation and that even if this runs tiresome there is always the Brexit or Trump. We know that ‘how are you going’, is code for new friendships and that there are strategic hostel locations for picking up stray friends that may otherwise have been missed. You offer me a seat at your table, I offer you a piece of my heart.
Some friendships last for days, some just for a few passing moments. There are many new friends I have acquired whose names may appear on my news feed in a few years time and my memories of them will have ceased. Likewise I know that I’m just one of many face’s you may meet on your own journey. Will you remember me? The Australian that helped you put your drunk friend into bed. The girl who lended you her goggles to snorkel in the Adriatic. The Blonde in the orange dress who fell asleep at the end of your bed when you and her friend were looking for some privacy. Maddi who you ate breakfast with and joked over pancakes. Who you are to me and who I am to you will never be our whole persons. We are simply the person the other needed at the time we crossed paths. How tragically beautiful.
Goodbye’s are not necessarily spoken in such a relationship forum. We bid goodbye through our departures and need no sentimentality. We are silently thankful for one another and for the cherished memories we carry onto the next destination. My backpack is full of them. As the train rolls into Köln I prepare myself to make some space for new ones. I put on my ‘friendly and not dangerous’ face, slow down my English and remove Australian slang from my vocab once again. I’ll say “hello” when I walk into your dorm room. I’ll laugh on your walking tour and make a poor joke at the tour guides expense. You’ll roll my sleeping bag when I’ve forgotten how and I’ll be so thankful you were there when I needed.