Travelogue: Schultz' gate
© Barry Kavanagh 2011
This is so that others can have the pleasure of taking this journey.
1 To Åsaveien
I am whole as I roll, turning from end to end, curling around the plastic bin, and as one part of me moves, then another, over the cracks in the asphalt, momentum builds - to move me forward, across the rough surface. Here I am at last, on another street, Schultz' gate. I try not to think of the far end of the street, or of my final goal. Instead I focus, narrowly, on the next set of bins and a parked bicycle in the near distance, and this helps me get, moment by moment, limb by limb, nearer to these, and indeed, I successfully pass them. If you stare down at the tarmacadam surface you'll see it looks like it has been formed by miniaturized volcanic activity. My body, my form, knows, through the scraping pain that comes with friction, that the ground, although supposedly constructed as a footpath, is not a flat plane. It is broken up into a multiplicity of levels, all rises and dips. Uncomfortable holes are here, and then there are the former holes, ex-holes, filled in with asphalt concrete that overflowed while it was wet, creating protruding black lumps that a moment ago made me think of hardened lava. These peaks are as disagreeable as the troughs. It's a relief to reach the end of the block and flop off the kerb, onto the zebra crossing at Åsaveien, some of its white lines faded into a kind of sad intermittence, I should point out, in case the authorities are reading. Across it I go, easily because there is no traffic, nor even the sound of any cars in the distance. There is the noise of an aeroplane above, and distant bells, but these are of no significance.
2 To Schønings gate
I am weightless for a second, then I land on the footpath, which is gravel and dust. It's much scratchier ground now. The asphalt has been removed here, for digging, to stuff fiber optic cables into the earth. But rising from the dust, I touch cool cast iron, a series of square manhole covers, three of them, hatches branded 'Ulefos'. I rest here a moment, there is silence, a drop in the wind. The sky is blue, it's a true summer, although clouds are thick on every horizon. I can sense the little bit of grass, that sense of soil, and the old days, on the verge to my left, but I don't look at it, no, I feel a push to move me ahead, over the rest of the gravel and onto a long section of level tarmac stretching out before me. I am satisfied with this surface, the pain of moving along has now been lessened. My senses tell me that there are people ahead, sitting on top of, rather than at, a picnic table at the corner of Schønings gate. There is a male with a white shirt, partially incandescent because his back is to the sun, and partially caught in the shadow of something, perhaps the parking sign. He is almost obscuring a female, but behind his luminous blonde head I can see the movement of this other, hair as fervid in its play with the strong sunlight but darker than his, it is hers, I know she is there. She has raised her knees higher up than his, I can make out the complexion of her bare legs, I know she is there. When I pass by they won't see me, they won't notice, I am too small, no, it's not really my smallness that's the reason, but they won't pay any attention. Communication with them would be impossible anyway. I couldn't explain to them the way I have been unmoored, if that is what has really happened to me, it may just be a feeling of dislocation. It is a genuine feeling, but there is the possibility that it is unjustified; I could be too subjective, opinionated, contaminated with personal bias, emotional, internalized in my worldview. Of course, if they saw me, they might never demand that I explain myself. But that picnic table is behind me now, and the companions, the boy and the girl, the man and the woman, ages were indeterminate, are irrelevant to my thoughts, which are constantly moving forward.
3 To Hammerstads gate
Ho! Have you ever laid upon this stretch of path? No, you've been elsewhere. Gazing up at the Great Pyramid, you may have been impressed, not comprehending it from base to peak all at once, a feeling your erstwhile friend Immanuel Kant called the 'mathematical sublime', and you may have caught yourself dreaming of the chambers inside, where spindly archaeological robots scuttle about with blinking lights these days, scanning the painted hieroglyphs, but you don't really need to visit the Great Pyramid if you have laid down on the footpath beneath the Topica vintage clothes shop on Schultz' gate. All you have to do is lie in the gutter here to experience the sublime, in the walls of burnt orange and overhanging lanterns. And you don't need to visit famous mausoleums, when right here there are three Ulefos manhole covers, like Cerberus heads at the entrance to the underworld. You don't need hanging gardens, with trees dangling from theatre-like tiers, when there is the dark plant pot that tries to obstruct me here, an explosion of fake green plastic leaves reaching out to me, while real grass swells sneakily around the lower step of the shop. I fly along this path of wonders, where there are column-like rows of pale rain gutters attached to the buildings, leading to the street gutters that lie across my track. I am rooted to no spot.
4 To Fauchalds gate
There is a spire on a building on Hammerstads gate, and there are people or dummies propped in the window of that tower, silhouettes that seem to beckon to me. Ulefos offers yet another entrance to the underworld, and it beckons to me. There is a window, low to the ground, open an inch, screened shadows within, beckoning to me. A board on the corner advertises ecological chocolate to me, and it beckons, absurdly. I quake a little with fear and I don't believe I have a reason to. What has happened to me?
5 To Ingelbrecht Knuddsøns gate / Like nummer
Isolation. Drifting softly. I'm passing an ochre building; weeds sprawling out of an overgrown drain; Ulefos once more; and shopfront plants. I am drifting softly. Isolation, I call this, because I remember where I was, where I began, but I was picked out, singled out, excised, excluded, while others are back where they always were, all together, going through the old motions, swaying to the old rituals. Don't you know what their energy means for them? It's the same as it always was for that bunch, the same energy, even though I am not there to participate in it. But I feel no envy, those rituals are moribund for one who is now drifting softly alone. Nor does the isolation make me love them less, or dislike myself.
6 To Ole Vigs gate
I can't feel as much as I used to. I'm missing the determination to push ahead, which I had before. There was a part of me that used to feel resolve, and it's missing. Now other things are more powerful than me: a bent traffic sign with its arrow pointing nowhere, the rain gutters and the parked bicycles. I move on anyway, just the same, regardless, even though I would need to be reminded why.
7 To Bogstadveien
The world gives me graffitti: big capital letters and lovehearts, but it's not as noticeable as the fast food wrappers. There's room at the bottom of the world, for straws, cups and paper bags. And here's a car park, should I question its presence, flaunt some ad hoc aesthetic values, call it ugliness? But it is actually beauty that I find terrifying. Is it here? If beauty is close, I know I will fall into a deep, deep sleep. If life throws it into my path. If it has a quivering intensity. I fear it but I want to be with it, lie, hold, sleep, because I know that such a sleep would bring bliss and perfect dreaming. I feel association and identification with it, closeness to that bliss, that deep sleep I sense in my consciousness, knowing! Knowing what would let me fall asleep in perfect peace. Let me. This peace, this quiddity, this feeling, this home: I knew it before and I know it now. I am approaching it, approaching it - but where is it? Where ecstasy and perception will stop, hallelujah and so on. It is not death, no, death is not sleep, death is darkness, nothing. Death is not the murmur of sleep, the fall, the deep sleep. But I realize the sleep is not here, just as I am about to stop, in the dappled light, along the dips, cracks and discarded food wrappers. I have not stopped, I am moving slowly towards an unexpected order, multiple paving stones, a proliferation of little slabs, well-ordered despite the unevenness of the ground. Listen to the tram on Bogstadveien! Awake, awake. I feel like I could now become a lamp, with discrete beams of light, shining onto Bogstadveien. Can I stay intact or will I separate into parts, one part of me pulled towards LAVPRIS HELSEKOST iHus JC JC JC JC iHus Glitter; a second to Stiansen P-hus and Deli de Luca; a third to the billboards, BIT and norli? No I won't, I won't. I remain together, in one piece, wholly me, not faded, not broken, always and forever moving forward, yes, forward, uprooted, moving, a flower blowing along the road.