I first called Marc-Henri, my best friend. Then my mother -in -law, who was with my 3 and a half year old daughter who lived on my trip. I don’t remember these calls very well, but they carried the same message: “I’m not going back, I’m leaving with a stranger I met on the train. »
What motivates me to say these words to the two adults I am closest to? A meeting, in Moscow-Vladivostok, with a tall man whose name I do not yet know. I’m a journalist at the time (I’ve been making a detour ever since and this adventure isn’t there for the left). For the needs of a report for a Swiss magazine where I work every now and then, I started Trans-Siberian. A mythological train and a journey of more than 9,000 kilometers have inspired many adventurers and writers. I would spend about ten days in an “old” hut. I was afraid of being allergic to dust mites that were likely to be located on the red velvet on the seats. I was also afraid of boredom, problems charging the battery of my laptop computer, dizziness with every movement of the car. But I was also excited about the idea of crossing into Yekaterinburg, Irkutsk and making time for myself, under the pretext of working. I had to think and cry.
Mathieu left me four months ago. Our couple couldn’t stop our daughter from coming. We squirmed. He started working a lot more, not answering me when I asked him, blaming me for my business trips. Classic, like the couple splitting up. I can trust his mother – my step mother – and he was the one who watched a little when I went to the assignment. Mathieu was very busy, “not there”, very angry, very focused on the little brunettes in the bars, very frustrating. This Trans-Siberian journey means far away, on the move, alone, with little to do. My mission: to tell what I saw and experienced on the board. My only effort: to meet people who travel too, to ask them why, when, where, how, who and how many.
When we travel, we speak all languages without being spoken. We make gestures, we look at the eyes, the lights, the signs. It is the non -verbal, in the end, that drives the exchanges. And instinct. Mine became blurry when I approached this tall blond guy. Big, big like a bear. The hard jaw, the big hands. Even when I’m trying to fight to improve myself, I’m filled with clichés, like everyone else. So I thought “this is him, this is the Man from the East”. Almost a cartoon. He was alone, not talking, not reading, not laughing. Everything about him was back, but in a posture of astonishing strength. A block of flesh in a stiff frame, primarily blonde hair with a slight green tint, like some blonde hair. Green like his eyes. Green like a train. I looked at the guy I still call “the guy” today. He looked at me too. No one looked at or bit their lower lip. And neither is the background music that starts to pull us in a tendency. No rise in desire, no rush. We just stared until he stopped looking at me, he got up and walked away. For people who encounter a wildlife in the forest, the scenery should evoke something. In Brussels, at night, I saw wolves many times and it had the same effect. A stop, then a start. Pretty much like the train.
I want to heal this moment, prolong it, experience something. I had to take a picture of the guy. I have a good eye and good equipment. The methods available in the press oblige us to be multitasking. My report should include beautiful shots of the atmosphere. So I just had to explain the process to the guy to establish a dialogue. I don’t want to flirt with him (I don’t know what Mathieu’s relationship will be like after six years). I just wanted to … I don’t know. Anyway, I wanted nothing more than to meet this man who looked like a statue. I saw his wagon and his cabin, I knocked on the door, he didn’t open. I repeated the merry-go-round at noon, then at night. No answer. The next day, I saw him again. I gave him a sentence in English. He said nothing, he showed no signs of understanding or distrust. He just turned and left. The air of my life. At night, I dreamed of him. I woke up with the certainty that this man was the man in my life. I started writing about our daily life in a hut on the shores of Lake Baikal. He will fish, I will smoke fish. We don’t talk to each other. Our silence was enough for us. We would live in autarky, we would cultivate our products, we would make a boat cut out of the wood of the forest. One day a lost dog comes to us and we adopt him. We could smell the ash and the cold. Our skin is red. We really love each other.
In my fantasy, it was just him and me. Not the world, not my daughter, not Mathieu, no time or place. I had a fever and a severe headache. I slept most of the day. That same night I called Marc-Henri and mother-in-law to tell them I was leaving everything. The next day, I met the man again and I thought he would smile at me. Just a “smile in the eyes”. There, I started crying and hot tears that I didn’t take my eyes off her. He got off the train at Listvyanka and never boarded again. He left and I was really hesitant to follow him. I could have tracked him down, tracked him down, opened up his life to get through it. I would have known his name, if his father had punished him when he was little, and the taste of his favorite drink. But I didn’t get off the train. I did nothing. What healed me was that I felt my deepest possibility. I was really at the crossroads and I knew I would have had the energy to keep going. Maybe I miss my daughter after a few hours of wandering around looking for this stranger on the streets of a cold city. My relatives would have reported my disappearance, I would have been caught, reasoned. I would have been a “voluntary loser” and I didn’t have to do it to know that I could make a surge of freedom.
I called back Marc-Henri and mother-in-law to explain to them that I was heartbroken and to apologize for their concern. My trip is over and I’m back…
When I got back, I asked an artist friend to draw a “composite portrait” of the man I hadn’t photographed. I framed it. He is the man of my life and his picture is placed next to my bed. I thought of him every day for three years and I lived with him a parallel and secret imaginary life that fulfilled and nurtured me. Soon, I was ready to go back to “real life”. Right now, I take care of my love for her, the books I write, and my little girl.
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