The whole point of travel books is to write about somewhere that no one has ever been before or nowhere that anyone ever goes, which is more or less the same thing, as most people don’t want to go nowhere.
A dictionary definition of nowhere
“Not in or at any place. Not anywhere.”
At this current moment life is going nowhere. Therefore, some reflections on this strangest of places.
It cannot be said that those people who never go anywhere, actually go nowhere, because nowhere is somewhere. It is a town, a region, a country, with people living in the middle. It is also a very alluring destination. Nowhere-to-be-seen. If Nowhere, is ‘”to be seen,” there is obviously something worth seeing. Moreover, judging by the number of people who are going to Nowhere, fast, it sounds like the place is a very popular destination with everyone just eager to get there.
For the past few months my life has been going Nowhere and dragging me along with it. I am still on the road to Nowhere as I write, and the road seems to be never ending, because it has not got anywhere at the moment, even if it leads to Nowhere.
Were there a road to Nowhere, it would be a long desert highway with telegraph poles, tumbleweed, vultures and dead dogs. There would be turn offs to non-descript non-places. We would cruise gently along in a 1960 Chevy Impala convertible, stopping to buy gas from toothless, dungaree-clad “old-timers” in tumble down gas stations with a single pump and a rusting Coca Cola sign hanging precariously from the front porch and ominously creeking as it swayed in the desert wind. We would stop off for the night, or possibly forever, at the Bagdhad Café or the Bates Motel.
Had I the choice of how to get to Nowhere, I would go by train.
The journey starts in the bustling central station in the city of Square One. There are trains that go Everywhere, Anywhere and Nowhere, which, I seem to remember is situated in that country known as In Particular, (possibly in the middle of Nowhere.)
The station concourse, with its high vaulted iron roof, the fruit of ingenious and imperial ancestral, engineering grandeur, is like the inside of a huge whale, devouring the millions of errant souls. Anyone and everyone going Anywhere, Everywhere and Nowhere, because they are all looking for Somewhere, but they haven’t found that final resting place because they always come back to Square One.
This station has one particularity, there is no ticket office. You cannot buy a ticket to Nowhere and if you don’t want to go to Nowhere, you can go Somewhere Else, which is anywhere that isn’t Nowhere, and you cannot buy a ticket to Just Anywhere. Tickets correspond to precise destinations, but here there are no destinations.
I choose a train. The Steward shows me to my compartment and off we go. I have no bags. I have left them in the vast and never-ending complex of left luggage lockers. Seasoned travellers never bother with bags when they travel from the station at Square One. No point bothering yourself with the heavy and cumbersome baggage of life when you know that you’ll soon be back at Square One. Besides, you tend to pick up quite a bit of baggage on the journey, which you then have to find room for when you get back to Square One. This of course reminds me of the other curious feature of the station at Square One – the vast market outside the station, where recently returned travellers try to sell all they have accumulated on previous journeys, but they never manage to sell any of it. We all have enough bags to lug around or look after without burdening ourselves with someone else’s.
So, I sit in my sleeping compartment, preferring solitude to the company and life stories of my fellow travellers. What is there to tell though? We’ve been Anywhere and Everywhere and Nowhere, and always ended up back at Square One.
Written in the wake of my mum’s death in 2010