by Joey Ayoub
I don’t really remember why I went to Madagascar. I doubt that my reasons were particularly interesting (or even relevant) to what moved me and changed me and destroyed me while there.
I have thought long and hard about this. And for whatever the little secret silences that separate the moments of anxiety are worth, it does seem as though the mysteries are far from completely unraveling themselves. But I have gone a long way since then and more and more mysteries are simply no more.
All my life I was on a road, a road I knew to be endless. All my life I swept dying leaves and emotional turmoil with an ease that bordered the psychopathic and breathed in the warmth and cold with a self-denying indifference that made me vulnerable to the next attractive heartbreaking adventure.
The road was endless. It went on and on out from the door where it began. It dove through the imaginary and the fantastical as it did with the real and the dull. Middle Earth, Hogwarts – they hid no secret from me. I woke up in one and slept in the other, spending the in-between time building a bridge to Terabithia, falling down a rabbit-hole, flying off to Neverland or looking in my wardrobe for the guilt-ridden world of Narnia.
Friends, family, going out, coming home. They were all part of a pre-fabricated vision I maintained. I satisfied society’s expectations with a routine-immersed life and I tried my best to squeeze through the ever-increasing crowd to tell the world that I existed.
When I heard from a friend that an opportunity to go to Madagascar was presenting itself to me, we were both sitting in the garden of my family home back in Ain Saadeh in the Lebanese mountains. We had been wanting to travel together to any remote country but it looked as though I’d be on my own on this one. I didn’t give it much thought before saying yes. I didn’t have anything planned for summer, it would look very good on my resume and I would get invaluable work experience from it. A no-brainer.
I had reads books on the subject of traveling. Words and words dealing with traveling, adventure and the quest for the unknown. I admired four master wayfaring strangers. Thoreau, the young Guevara, Supertramp and Kerouac were like interchangeable voices encouraging me to go towards the unknown. I read their books with childlike veneration and allowed them to define a rather sensitive period of my life.
Whatever the means, they all had in common the soul-searching ache that was consuming them from the inside. These books and their authors would eventually play an important role in my life, to say the least. In a typically slow pace, they would enter my stream of consciousness and leave little hints and clues that will much later be understood.
It was my time now.
One step at a time, I walked towards the wherever.