Invitation to the Voyage

In the spring 2018, in a pop-up vehicle along a crystal clear coastline, a man and woman chase a mirage in desolate lands. When, at a turn in the path along the shoreline, snippets of a carefree world are snatched from the realm of dreams.

In the Land of Parents

“It should’ve been my foot instead” I insist. Jokingly, or maybe not. Her wound is not that bad, but it’s pretty bad. The enthusiasms has guided us into the water on the edge of St Maxime, and the seabed is rocky, uneven, sharp. “I’m pretty sure it was a shard of glass. Look at how clean the cut is.”

Felix Olsson

I stand by and observe as she wraps tape around it. It looks ghetto. A do-it-yourself operation. She’s talking about using super glue to close it. I’m convinced she is joking, but would go on to be proven wrong. “We should have asked for plasters in the Land of Parents. It is full of useful stuff like that.” I look at her, not understanding at first. But then I realize she is right.

Are you warm now?

We had watched a documentary sponsored by Patagonia the night before. She had pointed out that one of the adventurers wore my jacket. “Wow. You’re right.” Ah, the Enthusiasms. Suddenly I knew exactly what I was going to wear for the trip.

“Is weed legal in Italy?” I ask her, pointing to the selection of opiates on the counter at the roadside-stop by the gas station, somewhere along the Italian shore. She let’s me know that according to Google, it most certainly is not. We order two hot chocolates and ignore the abundance of cannabis being sold by the bartender. I am not wearing the jacket, and it saddens me.

Felix Olsson

“I think this might be us”, I point out when we have driven a significant distance onto one of the hills, somewhere in Ligure, looking for shelter for the night. It is colder now, and I am pleased to put the jacket on. As would prove a theme on this trip my navigation is useless. She is continuously pointing this out to me. I keep leading us to dead-ends.

A few minutes later she has taken over control of the GPS, and guided us to an appropriate spot for the night. She looks at me amusedly as I put on layer after layer before climbing into bed. She is wearing a way lighter garb, unafraid of the cold that concerns me. “Are you warm now?” she asks me, when I finally undress.

Drop into St Maxime

Salt is everywhere. In our hair, on our skin, in our eyes. We have left Nice behind, and are once again improvising. This trip has no plan. No goal. The journey is the treasure. She has been taking inconspicuous photos of me shopping vegetables somewhere in Cagnes-sur-Mer, and I am excited for the prospect of deepening my relationship with the portable kitchen. Asparagus and lemon. I have studied the map for some time now, and am pretty sure I have found an area where “nothing is going on.” She suggested that as a general goal for finding somewhere where we can camp without being kicked out (we have decided to stay away from campsites in favor of wilder spots). We arrive at my planned destination of nothingness, and it turns out to be a big university campus. “Right.” she says, and pulls over. The map is now in her hand. I decide it is best to say nothing.

Felix Olsson

“Okay… Yeah… Mhm…” she mumbles for herself as her hand flies back and forth over the iPhone, planning an itinerary. “Excellent… And then we’ll just drop down into St Maxime in the morning…” she says to noone in particular as she starts the car up again.

I look out the window and smile.

Either the wind, or someone breaking into the car

I have cooked quinoa on the portable kitchen, and the mood is good. Close to where we have parked to enjoy the views are a gang of french kids smoking and laughing. Recently the sky was burning, now it has turned a soft shade of pink. She is telling me the story of a man who realized he was not who he once thought, and I sit and listen and wonder about the parallel reality where we had never gone home with each other. Woosh. Sliding doors, ah.

Felix Olsson

“Be careful if you go to Calanques, ah, there are thieves,” we had been warned. A long time after we have pulled over and set up camp for the night, carefully positioning the tentbox to make sure we will have views over the ocean in the morning, she asks me if I think we should lock the car. “Maybe?” Our sleep is disturbed by french girls laughing. Why did they choose the one spot on this winding road in which there was clearly a tent? Sleep arrives at some point. Suddenly, the car alarm. “Did you not hear that?” she asks, irritated. “I did. What do you think that was?” “That was either the wind, or someone breaking into the car” she replies. I sharpen my ears. The wind ​is ​terribly strong. Sleep finds us again at some point. Days later she explains to me that it definitely not the wind. She had heard the footsteps.

I’ve always wandered the streets alone

There are blue chairs lined up in rows. Seemingly endless. We have parked the car right at the beginning of the Promenade des Anglais, and are making our way back towards it after having wandered in Nice for hours. I wonder about wandering the streets in Nice, not alone. I’ve always wandered the streets alone. This is nice, too.

Felix Olsson

Before leaving the car to explore the streets, we both changed clothes in it. From beach bums to street people. I feel fresh, but she looks even more rock n roll than I do. I need a leather jacket and a switchblade. At one point, a take-away pizzeria perfectly appears. They give us hot-sauce. I have a quarter liter of rosé in my bag, and bread. There are blue chairs lined up in rows.

“Do you want to cook where we sleep tonight,” she asks (we do not yet know where this will be) “or on the beach?” She points to one of the many man-made clusters of rocks reaching out from the beach into the sea.

“On the beach.” I reply, already considering the full spectrum of the pesto. An hour later, the sky has opened itself.

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