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This post is about being home after The Longest Way. I celebrate Christmas, take walks, and lose my hearing.

I don’t know what to say. After all these years, I have finally arrived at home, and The Longest Way has reached its conclusion. The Caboose is in the car port. We’re no strangers to love, she and I, but our walking days are behind us.

the stranger

The thing is, I don’t know what to say. I could tell you that The Cut turns out to be a trip in and of itself. You know the rules and so do I: one hot summer afternoon seven years earlier I am in Northwest China, making the commitment to not touch my hair or my beard until the moment when I will reach my home. A full commitment is what I’m thinking of.

I’m glad my brother Ruben is there when it finally happens. What have I done? I ask him as we arrive at the location and see the crew with their lights and smoke and their cameras and microphones. “It’s only appropriate for the gravity of the situation,” Ruben says with an ironic smile. You wouldn’t get this from any other guy.

After it’s all done we go to have burgers, fries, and coke. One time I look up and see my own reflection in a window. Only it’s not me. The person staring back at me is a confused stranger.

the black cat

I am writing all of this because I just wanna tell you how I’m feeling. Gotta make you understand. But how? Maybe it’s better if I just tell you about some of the things that I’ve been doing lately.

There’s that moment when I take the very last self portrait of The Longest Way. I do it in front of a map of the Silk Roads. There is a thin black line that I have drawn on the map. I love that line.

Sometimes I go for little walks around Bad Nenndorf. We’ve known each other for so long, the town and I, and so little has ever changed. There is a Christmas market, so I go there to stand around in the cold and have some lumumba.

I make a kohlrabi dish that the bowtie-wearing owner of the guesthouse in Bodenwerder has told me about. I feel strongly about kohlrabi.

One day I notice that I have lost most hearing in my left ear. So I go to the emergency room. The doctor tells me that it’s sensorineural hearing loss and asks me if I’ve been experiencing any stress lately. It’s one of those situations where your heart’s been aching but you’re too shy to say it. I look at my reflection, at the confused person who isn’t such a stranger anymore, and I think: inside, we both know what’s been going on. The doctor gives me some cortisone and I recover my hearing.

I visit my grandparents and play Rummikub with my grandma. I like the moment of sitting down and noisily shuffling the playing pieces on the table. It’s as comforting as it is simple: we both know the game and we’re gonna play it. I drink lumumba and my grandma wins the game.

I spend Christmas at my sister’s place. She gives me a gift, a tiny porcelain plate from Japan with a black cat painted on it. The cat looks so fragile and trusting and stupid that I have to fight back tears.

the pastel dream

And then there is the pastel dream. Or rather, it isn’t so much a dream as it is a memory.

Ever so often, before my mind’s eye, I find myself in a certain afternoon in the spring of 2018 when I was walking through East Iran. I am on a country road, and I can feel the Caboose’s handlebars in my hands, I can hear the gravel scrunching under my soles, I can see the earthen walls on both sides of the road, and I can smell the orchards. It is neither hot nor cold, it is perfect. The world feels like a pastel-colored painting, everything is so soft and timeless. Actually, it’s as if time has never existed.

And if you ask me how I’m feeling don’t tell me you’re too blind to see.

pictures

being home after The Longest Way:



  • Daydreamer

    The greatest Rick Roll of all time, surely.

    Reply

  • Lucie

    Very emotional end to an incredible journey. So many memorable moments come to mind, like the time the Caboose disappeared in Munich and instead of cutting your losses and saying goodbye to a friend you went “Nope. Never gonna give you up” until you found her again. All these times of joy and absolute misery, the rain, the cold, the exhausting uphill trails and the steep slopes that felt like they were never gonna let you down. Not safely anyways. And yet, here you are, over a decade and 18167,8 km later. Home.

    Never left a comment before today, but thank you Chris for sharing your story and letting strangers come with you on The Longest Way.

    Reply

  • JC

    Rummikub! My family loves that game! I even played it with my grandma!

    Reply

  • Hristo

    I think I know what you mean. A Terry Pratchett quote comes to mind:

    โ€œThe only superstition I have is that I must start a new book on the same day that I finish the last one, even if itโ€™s just a few notes in a file. I dread not having work in progress.โ€

    And the guy must have known something, because he churned out 40+ Discworld books, and quality was never a problem for them.

    Keep busy. Start a new project, any project (a new book on TLW if you’re feeling nostalgic, God knows you’ve got ton of material from all these years. Keep the journey going, or start a different one if that comforts you. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply

  • guoxiang

    ่€้›ท๏ผŒๅ…ณๆณจไฝ ๅพˆๅคšๅนดไบ†๏ผŒ็ซŸ็„ถ็œŸ็š„ๅฐฑๅˆฐ่พพไบ†็ปˆ็‚น๏ผŒๅฅฝๅฅฝไผ‘ๆ•ดไธ€ไธ‹ๅ…ˆใ€‚ๅพˆ็พกๆ…•ไฝ ๆœ‰่ฟ™ๆ ท็š„ๅ‹‡ๆฐ”๏ผŒไธ€่ทฏ่ตฐไธ‹ๆฅใ€‚ๅ›žๆƒณ่ฟ™ๆฎต่ทฏ็จ‹๏ผŒไฝ ่‚ฏๅฎš่ฟ˜ไผšๆœ‰ๅพˆๅคšๆ„Ÿๆ‚Ÿ๏ผŒๅธŒๆœ›็œ‹ๅˆฐไฝ ๆ›ดๅคš็š„ไธŽ่ฟ™่ถŸๆ—…้€”ๆœ‰ๅ…ณ็š„ๅˆ†ไบซใ€‚

    Reply

  • DrDefine

    you finally arrived, great job.

    Reply

  • Andy Ryan

    โค ๆœ€้ฅ่ฟœ็š„่ทฏ ่ตฐๅฎŒไบ†

    Reply

  • Robert

    I have been watching your photos, enjoying all your stories, and admiring your courage and perseverance for 15 years. Now I don’t know what will fill the void after the end of your trip. I hope there is more to come. But relax and savour the memories and everything you have experienced

    Reply

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