Seelenerwandte

“To love is easy and therefore common – but to understand – how rare it is!”
-L.M. Montgomery, Emily of New Moon

The Germans call it seelenerwandte, the Italians, anima gemella, and the Americans kindred spirits. 

She gave me a warm hug, then looked me in the eyes and told me that although we were only just meeting in person, she felt as though we had known each other for a very long time. The next week would prove that yes indeed, she and I were kindred spirits. Woman who although very different in cultural upbringing, held inside of us the feeling we had known each other a very long time – a commonality of the heart which cannot be described. 

Kindred spirits mirror one another, and without ego. 

It’s nice when you meet a friend like that. And also very rare. I have a number of friends, yet only one or two I feel a kindred spirt. It isn’t something that grows either. It’s something that simply exists from the moment you meet a person. No matter your differences.

Sometimes the kindred spirt is a dear friend like Sonngard, and occasionally the seelenerwandte is much more. 

———

Knowing I have a great love of architecture, she guided me through MedienHafen in Dusseldorf. We spoke of artists, writers, architecture. Of course we appreciated the same things, however different our views of them were. 

Ahead of us, holding hands, were our children. They themselves finding an anima gemella in one another.

“I feel so much pain for them,” she whispered to me. 

“Me too.”

They had met the last year while her daughter was studying abroad. She and her husband had both done so and wanted the same for their children. My son had dated many girls, and had even claimed to love one or two of them, but when he brought the German home, even though I liked her immediately, I wondered how they’d get along. She was different than the others he’d brought home. They interacted differently too. She challenged him, and he her. Challenged in a good, healthy, loving way. 

She spent many evenings with us and I had a chance to get to know her well. Many times she would talk of her mother and how alike we were. We had already made plans to holiday at the beach in Italy before he leaves for university, so when an invitation came from her parents to make a stop in Germany we accepted.

Being very practical and thinking only with their heads, they agreed they would not try to have a long distance relationship and that they would go their separate ways after the visit. 

“This is uncommon you know – how they get along and balance one another. So sad they live far away and are so young yet. They think only with the head now, but the heart doesn’t work that way. We know this.” 

I thought for a moment before responding. 

“It’s like that, isn’t it Sonngard?  They feel as though they have no time. They’re too young and impatient to understand the years in front of them. Although, maybe the pain is the same when you are old…but for a different reason. When you’re young you don’t understand that there is still time left in this life, and when you are older, you are so keen on just how little time there is left. The pain is the same.” 

As a parent you wish for your children to never feel pain. But they will. You wish to take all the pain from them. But we can’t. 

When we hugged goodby at the airport both of us knew it wasn’t really goodbye. We were old enough to understand how rare a connection like ours was and so vowed to keep it. We’ll visit, talk, etc.

We stepped aside and let our confused children embrace and say goodbye.

Advertisements

New Website, New Book – jenniferallison.co

Please note that I have a new Portfolio website – You can find my travel photographs, as well as paintings and sketches, at jenniferallison.co

I will continue to keep One Street Shy as a place for snapshots, essays, poems, and links to my Portfolio page.

My book, Roam: Essays and Photographs on Travel, will be hitting the shelves in mid-2019 (as soon as my Publicist says so at least…)

Thank you for following my work all these years. I appreciate you.

 

Hazy shade of winter, a photograph

Ahhh, seasons change with the scenery
Weaving time in a tapestry
Won’t you stop and remember me
But look around, leaves are brown now
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter
Look around, leaves are brown
There’s a patch of snow on the ground…
-Simon and Garfunkel

DSC05164

One’s entire life, a photograph

“How concrete everything becomes in the world of the spirit when an object, a mere door, can give images of hesitation, temptation, desire, security, welcome and respect. If one were to give an account of all the doors one has closed and opened, of all the doors one would like to re-open, one would have to tell the story of one’s entire life.”
– Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space 

Screen Shot 2017-10-30 at 4.37.20 PM

The dog, a photograph

“A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner: Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time. When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, The one I feed the most.”
– Geroge Bernard Shaw

DSCF2436

Creative, a photograph of life

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him… a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create — so that
without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.”
― Pearl S. Buck

dscf0404

Or not to be, A Photograph

“To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and, by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub.”
― William Shakespeare

DSC06204

 

Lisboa, adoro-te – My thoughts on Lisbon, Portugal

José Saramago, Portugal’s renowned Nobel Prize winner, once wrote, “We always arrive in the place where someone is waiting for us.”

What if, however, that “someone” is a city? After all, do cities not have hearts? I believe they do. Some are warm and some are cold, but each has it’s own essential personality/characteristics. Do we arrive at a city which “is waiting for us”? It’s how I felt about Lisbon – it had been waiting for my visit. For years I’d been wanting to go, but somehow other trips would take precedence and I’d let the notion of Portugal go for the time being.

Until recently.

Before my departure, a friend of mine (someone quite wealthy) gave me her account of Lisbon.

“Well, it’s kind of…dirty. Run down. But I liked it…sort of,” she recounted.

Though my Lisbon, (Can I call it that? Mine? Will he be upset that I have claimed him, the city, as my own, such the foreigner that I am? And why have I deemed him male when other cities such as Rome are so female to me?) was far from “dirty” (Although I’ve always been partial to dirt) and there was no “sort of” in my opinion. My love for the city is definitive. After all, I just laid claim to it here, didn’t I?

It was lovelier than other cities I’ve been to and it wasn’t because it’s cleanliness or cohesive architecture (which I love architecture so very much.) In fact, Lisbon is quite a mess architecturally, so to speak. Expensive buildings mixed with cheap prison-looking facades of recent took my eyes by surprise. However…. inside of that mess lies the kind of beauty that Neruda speaks of in one of his famous Love Sonnets.

“There are purer than you, purer.
There are lovelier than you, lovelier.”
….
“When you go through the streets
No one recognizes you.
No one sees your crystal crown, no one looks
At the red carpet of gold
That you tread as you pass.
The nonexistent carpet.”

I saw the crystal crown of the city and it’s people though…each time I took a walk…

I came to appreciate the beautiful buildings much more so than in any other place I’ve had the pleasure to visit. The perpetual underdog of Europe has something that the other more aesthetically pleasing cities don’t – it has the mess. Because you see, in between the architectural wonders of centuries past are ugly monstrosities of buildings irupted like small pox during the sixties and seventies to replace the fallen down ancient structures. By seeing the lovely original buildings next to the nasty replacements, I appreciated the beauty even more-so than in those cities where nothing is out-of-place and every facade blends with the next..

And the people? They have the same flavor as the buildings. They’ve been built up, torn down, burned down, smacked down and built again….only to remain strong.

I was right at home.

In conclusion, Lisboa, adoro-te

DSC04100

Here, A Photograph of Life in Lisbon

“Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.”
– Aristotle

Here I found no pretense.
Here I found neighbors filling the small bar housed next to the neighborhood soccer field to watch the game together – children laughing.
Here I found a better representation of life in the city of Lisbon than anywhere else.
Here I found authenticity and I suppose, a sample of Portugal’s own 99%.

DSC04044

 

Door, A Photograph of Lisbon, Portugal

“There are such moments in life, when, in order for heaven to open, it is necessary for a door to close.”
– José Saramago

The first post from Lisbon, Portugal, or anywhere for that matter, should be a door. After all, upon entering a new place, you have to open the door first.

DSC03827

A Mongolian Symphony

“My soul is a hidden orchestra; I know not what instruments, what fiddlestrings and harps, drums and tamboura I sound and clash inside myself. All I hear is the symphony.”
― Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

First came my birth….and my orchestra.

— When my parents brought me home from the hospital the day I was born, my siblings asked why they had brought home a “Chinese baby.” I only knew of my Italian, Irish and Eastern European roots while growing up. It’s what we all knew.

— Upon seeing photos of my two sons, most people ask if their father is Asian. He’s not – his heritage is German and Italian.

— I had a boyfriend once who would tease me, always joking that I must have Chinese in me because the way I held my face.

— A few years ago I had some body work done with a well-known physical therapist. To assess the alignment of my body he measured each of my bones that he could feel. When he came to my pelvis he said, “Hmm, that’s strange. You have an extra floating bone. It’s rare and I’ve only seen it in Asian women. Are you of Asian descent?” I told him no.

— I frequently dream of horses – riding horses, seeing horses in a barn, helping injured horses and watching wild horses.

— When my brother got married many years ago, his wife’s co-worker asked, in her thick southern accent, “Is that boy white? Or Asian?”

Throughout the years, we’d all shake our heads, shrug our shoulders and laugh at the comments; never thinking beyond the extra bones, slightly slanted eyes and wild horse dreams.

Then came a blood test.

A few months ago my parents decided to have a blood test done to chart their individual DNA, and as you can guess by my post, we found out an interesting piece of information about my ancestors. It seems a small percentage of my mother’s DNA is of Mongolian descent.

Then an old theory I read once.

Some scientist believe that within our DNA there also lives memories. Memories not formed by us, but our ancestors. Passed down from generation to generation the imprint is so strong, that it can even influence our decision-making. I suppose this cellular memory is also linked to quantum physics, as cells are energy matter.

Along with an idea.

While driving and considering my next article for The American Mag on…you guessed it… DNA and cellular memories, I decided that the next new continent I’ll visit will be Asia – Mongolia to be precise. Yes, Mongolia.

Europe is always near and dear to my heart and I’ll continue to split my time between Here and There, although my travel to Mongolia next year will take precedence within my wandering mind. And from what I can tell, much planning must be done (something I am generally loath to preemptively do so this should be interesting.)

I don’t know how long I’ll stay. I assume it will be a few weeks to a month maybe. I don’t what I’ll do either, though horses will surely be involved at some point or another, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll acquire another instrument for the symphony inside of my soul.

Auspicious Blackbirds

Yesterday while walking my dog, a flight of birds flew over our heads and I stopped to watch them. There seemed to be hundreds of them but I couldn’t tell the variety. Five minutes before the bird dance I had been listening to Eddie Vedder’s version of Blackbird while doing my dishes. “Auspicious” I thought to myself. Or perhaps hoped.

They moved in complete synchronicity with one another; darting one direction and then another. The movements seemed playful to me and I envisioned smiles on their little beaks as they followed the leader before filling a tree close by.

 

 

Contemplation, A Photograph of Hawaii

“Life is an experimental journey undertaken involuntarily. It is a journey of the spirit through the material world and, since it is the spirit that travels, it is the spirit that is experienced. That is why there exist contemplative souls who have lived more intensely, more widely, more tumultuously than others who have lived their lives purely externally.”
– Fernando Pessoa

I’ve spent the better part of the week in Hawaii with my sons. What I find interesting about the islands is that for as beautiful and pristine as they are, I struggle to be photographically inspired here. Don’t misunderstand please – the sunsets alone are photographed from visitors all over the world and I’m a sucker for a good sunset. The beaches, the aquatic world full of great sea turtles and fish the color of rainbows are what postcards are made from; though for me, while meditative, therefore giving me ample time to contemplate, they lack artistic inspiration; drama.

Take me to a city with interesting architecture and people and I can’t seem to put my camera down. Take me to the beaches where cameras abound, and I’m loathe to pick mine up. The photo below is one of the twenty I felt inspired to take. The man in the photo must’ve known he was being photographed because he quickly moved down the beach.

IMG_3257

My Hometown, A Photograph and Thought

“We need a home in the psychological sense as much as we need one in the physical: to compensate for a vulnerability. We need a refuge to shore up our states of mind, because so much of the world is opposed to our allegiances. We need our rooms to align us to desirable versions of ourselves and to keep alive the important, evanescent sides of us.”
― Alain de Botton,

Earlier this week I was asked where I’m from. As usual, this particular question brought a long answer. I explained that I was born in Europe and had for the entirety of my young adulthood, moved every few years or so. He then asked a question I’d never thought about before.

“Well then where would you consider “home” of all the places you’ve lived?”

It’s funny how sometimes the most innocent of questions or comments can open in us insights into ourselves that we didn’t know existed. His question was one of them and I answered as honestly as I could.

After considering it for a few moments, I told him I suppose I’m from here. Here being the place I’ve lived the past 18 years – Gig Harbor, Washington – a small, quiet little community about an hour from Seattle. For the first time in all of these years I actually owned up to being “from” a place. I mentally made it my home even though I had technically been “living” here for years and years.

The next day, before heading to my girlfriends beachfront to lunch I took my trusty dog Cella for a walk – a walk around our hometown. I did it with a new set of eyes. I’d spent so many years snobbishly wishing to be back in the city; in the hub of culture, that I had been completely ignoring the charm of the very town I inhabited. A town people from all over the world come to visit. The town – my town, originally a little fishing village, was founded by immigrants from Sweden, Norway and Croatia and the street names give the history away and some of the original families still exist. There’s culture here too. Culture I ignored.

On our walk we passed the organic market I frequent, the wine bar my girlfriends and I meet at all the time, as well as the small grassy field my dog likes to play fetch in. As we made our way downtown I was greeted with a view of sailboats coming in to the harbor, Vashon Island to my right with it’s forested beaches dotted with houses and The Olympic Mountains waiting for the sunset to set them on fire. Behind us stood Mt. Rainier looming like a great protector over our little village. How was it that I had taken this for granted for so many years? Everywhere you look, there is natural beauty.

Ironically, I’ve spent a great deal of time in Seattle and had lived downtown before moving here. In fact, I’m attending a museum exhibit opening downtown with a girlfriend tonight. But how quickly after leaving the city had I forgotten my complaining of the lack of community, the traffic which was at some hours unbearable as well of the high cost of living? So easily I wished it back when away from it. Although walking with Cella, I realized that I would wish the peacefulness and beauty of little Gig Harbor back should I leave it too.

Downtown the Farmer’s Market lining the waterfront was bustling with people. Walkers and their dogs passed us smiling and giving pleasantries. The young Olympic Youth kayaking team prepared their boats for practice. A banner reminded everyone that every Tuesday night in the summer was free live music. Here the locals dock their boats filled with friends while others fill the grassy areas with their lawn-chairs, bottles of wine and snacks to listen and dance. On the weekends you can bring your chair back and watch free outdoor movies in the warmth of the summer. All of this I had so callously poo-poo’d for years.

I decided that from now on, I’d enjoy every bit of my slice of heaven, my hometown, known as Gig Harbor. I wouldn’t complain about the gated communities, the BMW’s filling the student parking lot at the high school or the increasing taxes anymore. Instead, I’d be grateful that I have a little piece of it. I decided I’ll always keep a little place here, even when I make my move to Europe. After all, it’s my hometown….
IMG_2777IMG_2432

The Path, A Photograph of Spain

“Let each man take the path according to his capacity, understanding and temperament. His true guru will meet him along that path.”
– Sivananda Saraswati

This church, sitting on a hill in the middle of a small neighborhood, was possibly the prettiest place I found on Ibiza. I can’t remember where it was as it was found during an exploratory drive. The beaches, coves and sunsets were lovely too, but I’ve found them other places as well. However, this church on the hill, with all its white walls and cobbled pathways was special.

DSC02151