I make no secret of my love for Mary Chapin Carpenter, but my ventures into her work from this century are sparse and timid. Until today, when I found myself listening to the last five tracks of time*sex*love* on repeat.
Especially a song called “The Dreaming Road.” (I am sort of mad that it’s in an octave too low for me to sing along with, yet also too high for me to sing along with if I sing an octave higher. Life’s hard. Anyway.)
It reads like a poem.
The stars are out tonight, the breeze is warm and light
As I’m walking right back to you
Along the dreaming road, the only way to go
When I’m traveling by our code that north is true
Once upon a time these same bright stars did shine
Down the center line leading here
Nearly thirty years ago, now the map is stained and old
But on the dreaming road the coast is clear
I loved you more than life and I guess that’s why I died
When you would not love me back I couldn’t survive
And so the girl I was turned into someone else
Keeping to myself and from the light
I wasn’t odd or strange, just quietly rearranged
Sometimes the biggest change stays out of sight
So without plot or clue I ran away from you
I was twenty-two and drunk in Amsterdam
Got robbed in Paris, France, got home on one last chance
And without a backward glance I began again
And the days just kept on rolling and I just kept on going
Without a thought of ever slowing down
I made this long road mine but it was not the dreaming kind
Too many lost souls trying to get found
But beneath this ancient sky, one night we did collide
And the hole I thought was sealed opened wide
I tried so hard again not to fall back in
But you had me then by the throat
And a strange futility came washing over me
Almost peacefully I felt the rope
A million miles goes by in the blink of an eye
And so I cannot try to slow time down
And years are made of sand slipping through my hands
Even faster than the speed of sound
The stars are out tonight, the breeze is soft and light
As I’m walking right back to you
With nothing left to hide, the tears have all been cried
And the girl who died is walking too
Down the dreaming road, where the light is always gold
The air is never cold and always fine
And north is always true and you are always you
And I’m that girl you knew once upon a time
I love it. It’s inspiring me to write long beautiful novels about roads and romances and the odd dependency created by a shared history with someone (a fancy way of saying “the older you get the more you need the people who knew you when you were young,” a saying several of my friends and I wrestled with this summer).
Seconds ago I pressed the final button necessary to book myself a train ticket to Stockholm and back in a couple of weekends.
I’m excited for that. Really, really excited.
Part of my journey is the night train back to Umeå on Sunday night to bring me back very early Monday morning.
I really love the idea.
I have for some reason always liked the idea of traveling all night. One of the most beautiful things I saw on my trip here was the sunrise over Reykjavik when I hadn’t slept at all, just because it seemed like I’d traveled all night (I hadn’t, but you see a sunrise and you think, ah yes, the night is over).
I could cheerfully drive all night sometime if I were awake enough. I’ll keep that for another thought though.
There are a handful of travelly things I want to do while I’m here, and while I’m excited to get to places and take pictures, I’m also excited for the introspective in-between hours on the train (or wherever, though I can never think on planes).
I intend to visit Skellefteå by myself some Saturday in October, just as a day trip (once the rent is paid).
I hope very dearly to make it to Germany at some point, though who knows when I’ll have time and funds.
I’d like to cross the Arctic Circle and see the sea (might be able to see the sea next weekend – some people in my group of friends are thinking of going to Skuleskogen, a national park a bit south of here in which you can crash in cabins and hike all over).
I’d like to hit Finland if I can, simply because it’s so close and is an easy way to tick a country off the list. Maybe some weekend with friends.
My honorary uncle told me to visit Riga, Latvia, before I leave, and therefore I should like to do that. I’m thinking maybe in February, and I like the idea of doing this one on my own.
I also want to see Visby, an ancient Viking settlement in the south for which a cabin I lived in at Sjölunden is named. Its touristy moniker is “The Town of Ruins and Roses,” and frankly I can’t resist. I think maybe in the spring I’ll get down there. Maybe by myself, maybe with a friend or two if they’d like to go.
I also have a friend or two in Denmark and another who will be studying there in January, so perhaps a Denmark visit could happen.
On my in-general Europe bucket list are also Dublin, Austria, Florence and Russia, but I’m being flexible about those since they are more far-flung (and also possibly dangerous, in Russia’s case).
Nevertheless, the dreaming road keeps rolling, and there’s something wildly poetic about leaning your head against the window as the world rolls by, taking in as much as you can.
I’m on my way.