More than a year ago I remember sitting in some unnamed philosophy class talking about seemingly unrelated subjects when the idea of ‘love’ came up. “You know,” said the professor, chalk hovering barely from the board and gazing into the distance, “there’s a philosopher that equates the love that two people feel for one another with the kind of love that two potatoes randomly thrown into a sack must feel for another.” A pause, a sigh, then a nod, and she moved onto another topic.
I can’t say that I fully embraced the concept of ‘potato love’, if potato love were real love, we’d have to love all our other potatoes depending solely on proximity. But there was some inviting ambiance about the phrase. It simplified the closeness of all human interaction into to two cute words – potato love. It was appealing and poetic. I attempted many times since to write a song called potato love, but it never really came out. It explained a little about love, but certainly not enough.
Travelling, I’ve found that this little bit of missing something is actually a big bit of missing something. In most cases, yes, the people you bond with are those that you are most proximitous with. Spend more time together, and most likely you’re going to learn to like one another. Consider, however, that the reason you may initially come into contact with other potatoes is because you may have thrown yourself coincidentally into the same sack.
The last week I haven’t had any classes. Post intensive break, they call it. Hell yes, time to travel around the rest of Europe, said my classmates. I’m not ready to travel, I’ll just stay here for now, thanks, says me. A whole week to explore Vienna on my own – the idea was very appealing. At the beginning of the week it was rough. You can see in my last blog post that I was struggling with the idea of alienation and what good it could do me. Safe to say that while it was useful to me, it’s impossible to live in that kind of state forever.
Outside of the Arena.
Monday night, 10th of September. I forcefully pushed myself out of the house to go to a Dum Dum Girls/Crocodiles show at the Arena, a well-known concert venue in Wien. I hopped on the U-Bahn, and walked through the front gates by myself and then stood around for awhile by myself because the show didn’t start for another two hours. Well. What to do now? I wandered around a bit; I got used to the atmosphere. Crumbling walls literally covered with layers of spray-paint graffiti, a cool crowd of people my age who also had piercings and tattoos, and a cool bar inside of which was playing another band. That killed about 20 minutes.
Standing outside with nothing to do, I get approached out-of-the-blue by a girl my age. Hey, you speak English? Yes? Hell yes I did. We began talking. We were both here to see the same show, and were both studying in Vienna for the year. She’s from Russia, I’m from America. We didn’t seem to have anything in common in first, but as time passed and as we got some wine from the bar, we found that we have a lot more in common than usual. Our taste in music was a given, but then we had the same taste in movies and books.
Crocodiles at the Arena. New almost-favorite band.
The rest of the week, we have honestly gone out every night together. It’s nice to have someone else to share interests with, and since we both liked live music and the bar scene here, we began to branch out. The feeling is satisfying. While she is not the only person I’ve met since, she is one of the closest.
This experience has made me want to revise my definition of potato love. Maybe at home, the place where you’re raised, you can get thrown randomly into a sack of other potatoes and make common bonds with those potatoes. Traveling, I realize now that we’re all making choices that lead us to bond with the kind of people we want to bond with – buying that attractive person at the bar a drink, going to see this or that show, wearing these pair of shoes, going to this university, studying in this country. No matter what leads you to these choices, you immediately have a common interest with anyone else standing in near-enough proximity.
It’s exciting, and it’s encouraging. It makes it easier to approach people that I am initially not familiar with. Many times, they are in the same boat as me. And as far as the German language goes? I remember being at the Chelsea to see another show and this Austrian guy comes up to me and starts talking to me. Jesus, don’t be so afraid to make mistakes in German. Someone will understand you. You will LEARN. That’s what you want, it’s to learn, isn’t it?
Time to start learning.