Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bert Likes Pigeons, and I Do, Too.

This morning was sparkling and hazy and gray. I had it all to myself as I wandered from my albergue through the wildflower fringed path that edged the vineyards. Distant, massive mountains climbed into the pink dwn sky, their outlines resembling well-defined clouds. (Incidentally, I have no clue which mountains those are. I just hope I´m not about to climb them. They look big, very, though I´ve recently realized that wherever those tens of thousands of yellow arrows tell me to go, that´s exactly where I´m headed, so I may as well just accept it before they even start pointing skyward.)

It was silent on the Camino, and my hip wasn´t hurting yet. I just moved along, thinking. I thought about at least two things that mattered to me, things I wanted to write about, things that I wanted to consider more deeply. Last night I was talking to a man in his late 70´s who had done the Camino 14 times. He explained devoutly that the Camino exists within, that the hours of looking at one´s self are what´s important. Then he proceeded to confide that most of those hours of thinking are crap with brief flashes of insight. He´s right. Sometimes I spend hours thinking about nothing important at all, random scraps of nonsense. But sometimes there are moments of clarity. This morning had some of those. I was enraptured.

But as I was thinking, I became aware of two things. My hip had started hurting, and I wanted to stop and take some drugs. Then I realized that there was another pilgrim behind me who would surely catch up to me. I didn´t want to deal with her. Sometimes it´s good to break the monotony with a greeting, but sometimes it´s better to be entirely alone. I decided I would offer her a curt Buen Camino and trust her to move on. I stopped. I took the drugs. I began walking again. She overtook me. I said, ¨Buen Camino.¨ She mumbled something, and I recognized her as a French woman who had snarled at me twice at the albergue on the previous night. She kept going, and I exhaled, relieved. Then she stopped, dropped back, put her walking sticks in her other hand and pointed to my left foot purposefully and said:

"Mettez-le là" as she made her crooked hand point straight forward toward where we were walking. She was pointing out that my left foot turns inward. What a revelation! In 32 years and a recent 105 miles of walking, my hip and I hadn´t even considered that my pointed in toes might be an issue.

"No puedo." I answered in Spanish. The French never speak Spanish. It´s a small victory to taunt them with it.

I sighed softly and explained gently in my pidgin French that in the tradition of St. James, I have dedicated my Camino to representing the spirit of pigeons, those unappreciated of God´s creatures who are maligned from the Eiffel Tower to the Statue of Liberty, that with every step I take, I am enacting my devotion, my sacrifice. I cherish the pain in my left hip as a sign of my committment to the lowly pigeon.

I asked her whether she had heard of the tradition of dedicating one´s Camino to the spirit of a particular animal. I suggested she consider the ass, as she would be easily able to act out a pain in an ass.

She dropped back, presumably to re-examine my swaying, pathetic gait from a newly respectful perspective. I continued onward, fantasizing about having a chiropractor yank my hip from its socket.

1 comment:

Tara said...

You did not really say that to her, did you?? Either way, that's hilarious!