2024.14 : Let's Ride

Mexico City

Love doesn’t make the world go round; love is what makes the ride worthwhile.

— Elizabeth Barrett Browning

As the last one off the ferry from Venezia, ten yards after stepping off, I froze in my tracks.

Most folks know the expression “fight or flight,” not realizing it’s actually “flight, fight, or freeze,” with freezing being the most common initial reaction. Having studied self-defense in Israel, Bangkok, and Tokyo, I embraced this impulse to stop, look, and attempt to identify the threat my entire mind and body felt.

First, I turned around to see if a predator was coming from my blindside. All the locals had dispersed, and the employees were at their stations. After turning back around, I scanned the street to my left—empty. Then, I heard something and whipped my head around to the right, spotting a mother pushing her toddler in a stroller fifty yards away, with no one else in sight. Scanning the intersection in front of me and the roads feeding into it, not a car was in sight.

None of this relieved me of the intense sense of threat. I remained frozen, my mind running at full capacity, searching my memory banks for guidance while desperately seeking any kind of pattern that might help identify the threat. I waited for my mind to tell me something I could act on.

And there it was, plain to see once the pattern was identified—it was the traffic lights.

When people ask me how they can afford to travel for extended periods of time, I simply explain, “It’s the lodging. It’s always the lodging that makes travel prohibitively expensive. Food expenses will remain the same or less. Plan far enough ahead, and transportation costs can be saved up by even the working poor. Figure out lodging, and what you dream becomes possible.”

I had figured out the key that unlocks Venice, Italy for two weeks during August, coinciding with the Venice Film Festival. A penthouse all to myself for free. How? That’s another essay. One of the many things I love about Venezia is that it’s an amblers dream—no cars, no bicycles, just people walking. My soul gets its rest and relaxation. After ten days, I decided to take the ferry to attend a movie at the festival on one of the other islands.

All that time on the paradise island, I found myself instinctively falling back into the natural rhythm of life. The bustling streets, devoid of hunks of death metal hurtling at speed, instilled a baseline level of anxiety we all just fold into as part of modern life’s ‘new normal.’ The stress of constant vigilance necessitated by the automobile is taxing. It reminded me of anecdotes shared by older generations about the shattering of serenity brought about by the advent of automobiles. In Venice, not only does one get to live in a time capsule, but one’s nervous system also gets to go back in time. So much so that at the reintroduction of something as normal as a traffic light causes the body’s primal defense systems come rushing back.

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald

In an never-ending, ever-increasing struggle not to lose the ability to function with the opposed ideas mounting up, the automobile is but one.

The intimacy of a drive with someone is second only to pillow talk intimacy—a shared experience of all that passes by arranged by fate for just you two. The pretenses melt away with each mile. Otherwise forbidden bonding takes place with full plausible deniability, but we both know what we felt while in the car—the unspoken thrill of mortal danger of flying down the road where one mistake transforms lives, all normalized.

That thought beautifully imagined in the 2011 black and white film ‘For Lovers Only’. “The story of a man and a woman in love. After seeing each other for the first time in years while on separate work assignments in Paris, the lovers flee together and travel by train, car and motorcycle, as their love affair takes them across France – from Normandy to St. Tropez. Throughout their trip, both characters experience long periods of carefree bliss and unrepentant joy punctuated by brief moments of guilt and confusion. The final outcome of the affair is left open to interpretation.” Enjoy the luscious trailer down below in this week’s companion video.

So let’s go for an all day drive. It’s the safest and most thrilling place for us to be.

And now… know the photograph.

For Lovers Only Movie Official Trailer 2011 HD

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