Running the ditches of Luxembourg

There are times when you’re writing, say, a novel that are a little nail-biting. One goes along with it, you know. You go along and everything is hunky-dory. Then you look up and around. The sky has turned, the hills are not the same. You have to choose which way to go. It’s that way with running in strange cities, too.

And it’s not that you might make the wrong choice (writing and running are full of false turns). No, what is scary is when you know that, in that dark wood, you have to stay with it and carry it through to the other side. We got lost, too, the other day out in the woods here: Beatrice, Anne-Marie and Jack picking wild strawberries and wandering along this path and then another.

The nail-biting comes when you wonder if you have it in you to get home.

This all came up today in the writing and running. On this trip, I’ve met pretty important people whom I’ve heard about for more than 20 years: Madame et M. Pettovich,  and Fredo & Christine, two long-time friends of Beatrice’s. It’s a great thing about getting older, you can hear about people long, long before you meet them.

And then, making a connection over Chinese food and pink wine in Fredo’s garden. Later, in bed and on my iphone, next to super-old snapshots of me in little squares from, like, 1988 (!), I am watching Barbara Stanwyck as ‘Phyllis Diedrikson’ in Double Indemnity in that famous scene in the grocery store where she and Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) are meeting on the sly.

Then, this morning, a character in my book got down on her knees, in front of her husband’s mistress, to beg him to come home. She’s tried everything else. And, then, I went for a two-hour run through the Grund 

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(lower City) of Luxembourg City. Down there I deliberately climbed down a wall behind a gas station to get into the drain/run-off ditch (see pics) to run along it until I got to the base of the valley, then I ascended way high up and then back down and then back along the ditch, hounded by enormous posses of cawing crows,  to take the wall back up and walk home.

I don’t know exactly what the connection is but I know that there is a part of me that chooses to enter the drainage ditch as a writer (biting my nails and all). I prefer this to staying up where I always know where to put my foot. Down there my fear is assuaged in the knowing that it is dank, it is a labyrinth and I don’t know how it will turn out. Down there I come across moss’d stone, the war dead and 17th century portes (gates—again). Tomorrow Paris.

~ by Thom on May 31, 2011.

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