Marko Gajst/Traveling/Venice, ItalyMay 2011

From fear of being forever cemented in an endless loop of dry repetition. This was a move done from inner necessity. Escaping from barriers set within myself. Directing myself, towards an adventure, even if not a very big one. I left in a hurry. With question on my mind.

What’s the meaning of connections we make with people. Are they purely and entirely random, or fate for one reason or another, throws us at each other’s path?

The train carried me to a small station, wrapped in a fog. I had couple of hours before the connecting train would arrive; waves of coming and going people moved me into a meditative space and after a while a thought occurred: a train that just arrived, is my train. Is it thought? I checked the time, and when I just wanted to grab my backpack, the train started to move away. I’ve missed it?

I splashed cold water into face and pounder whether to go back or to go forward. Earlier foggy valley was now pained black, quiet and still. The station was deserted. There was just a suspiciously looking man. And there was no train before the next morning. “Wasn’t that exactly my aim, an adventure of some sort?” I thought, and decided to stay. Besides, there was no train to go back, before the next morning either. Not much of a choice then. I started to like it, in a strange way.

I had many thoughts about the man across me. Will he rob me if I fall asleep? Why is he there, and where is he going? Did he also missed the train? He said nothing, neither did I, and so we half slept there, each on our own cold, hard bench, as far away from each other as possible, with one eye open. And so the night passed.

The next morning I felt beaten, I got almost no sleep. I boarded a full train towards Ljubljana. Most of people were on their way to work. A homeless man decided to stand next to me and screamed obscenities. No one seemed to care, everyone was unbothered, expressionless. Perhaps they did not left beds entirely, still half way in a dream world. I was bothered, it seemed like I’m alone with him, it seemed like he will soon start shouting at me, because I was the only one who responded, even if only in small gestures.

At the final station, I left the train in a hurry. I saw him, walking his own way, talking with himself, still. He only added to my tiredness. I found a hostel and tried to get some sleep, which was a bad idea. Sleeping during the day is something I do not practice. I woke up in the afternoon, tired. The connecting train which would carry me to Venice was scheduled in the middle of the night, I still had plenty of time. I had a quick lunch and then decided to explore Ljubljana. I’ve returned to the hostel only towards the evening. I lied on the bed and read, but soon drifted into a dreamless sleep. I forgot to set the alarm.

Not sure by what, I was awaken. A thought - I need to be somewhere? Train, of course! I’ve jumped up. If I run I can still catch it, I though. The receptionist was in doubt: “if you miss it, the door will be locked and you’ll be without the key.” I didn’t have time to consider that, I ran out, hearing her voice in the distance: “ring the bell, I’ll be here, I’ll let you back in if you miss it.” I ran through dark streets of Ljubljana, luckily I’ve thoroughly explored them previous afternoon, and hence knew exactly what’s the shortest way to the railway station.

I’ve arrived with couple of spare minutes and sat in an empty coupe. I always get good sleep on trains. I love gentle swaying and sounds. A young lady showed up though, and ask if she can join. We talked and hours passed. We decided to sleep, only at the dawn. Another sleepless night. But this one, was more pleasant.

I woke up when crossing the Venice Railroad Bridge, Ponte della Libertà, the only connections of the historical center of the city of Venice, to the mainland. Train gently swaying, like floating on water. The railway station, Venezia Santa Lucia, was almost empty when we’ve arrived early in the morning. At that point I did not understood how crowded narrow streets of Venice will become very soon.

My new acquaintance and I decided to stick together for a while, but at some point we split up to explore places individually. We’ve soon bumped into each other again, in Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari. So early in the morning, church was deserted and gloomy. Right at the entrance we’ve been greeted by four telemones of a Moorish slaves that supported the structure, two at each side of the door. They nearly penetrated with their eyes, and staring at them for a while felt like they’ll come alive at any moment, angrily crushing the place and everyone in it. Among them were skeletons holding an inscription on a marble drapery, only adding to an already eerie mood.

Perhaps it was dark atmosphere of an old building, maybe it was because we were surrounded by Moorish slaves and skeletons, but suddenly my acquaintance hugged me, it was strange and unexpected. It was not romantic. It was comforting. Like two leafs swirling in the wind, bumping into each other, before being forever blown into different directions.

I was sitting, latter in the evening, near the Grand Canal, surrounded by masses of people. Would I try to stop them on their way, talk with them, - would I be ignored? Like a homeless man on the train?

I suppose connections we have with people, cannot be forced, they just happens, unexpectedly. Maybe most of people, like a background performers in a movie, are not meant to be interacted with, they have non-speaking roles in our life. We are not meant to bother them. There are some though, with who we touch, warmly or coldly, slightly or deeply. Maybe we were meant to touch with them.

Or maybe, we need to decide ourselves weather there’s any meaning to it or not. We prescribe meaning to events, and maybe that’s all we have, maybe outside our perception, there’s nothing. Yet, it sometimes happens, things turns out in such a poetic way, that we cannot help but ask, was there for me something, to notice. Like a beautiful landscape, in a random noise of existence. And supposedly, we’re forced to admit, random noise isn’t so random, there might be something behind it.

It was night and finally I boarded the train. I sat down, but thought occurred, that I’m on a wrong sit, so I’ve moved. My thought was wrong, my sit was right. But does not matter, me mixing things up again, helped me.

Soon next to me sat young couple. They were Slovene - I saw them when boarding the train previous night, and latter couple of times spotted them in Venice. We’ve started to talk. Turned out, they lived close to me. We ended up having a lengthy and pleasant conversation all the way to Ljubljana. “Where are you going from here?”, they’ve asked. I’ve explained, there’s no connecting train for me to go home. I had in mind another sleepless night on a cold bench. They’ve kindly offered me a ride home, which I accepted. And so this short adventure, came to an end.

And yes indeed, in a random noise of my existence, I saw a beautiful landscape, in those two days.