“The only tangible data that remain from my actual journey are two tattered maps and a thin pencil line marking my itinerary, punctuated by a crossbar for every overnight sojourn …
Perhaps the fact that I have already recorded this particular tract of the past in a notebook, even though the records are lost, has helped to fix much of it several strata deep. Tones of voice, moods, lighting, details of landscape or costume, streets, castles, mountain ranges, warts, eyelashes, gold teeth, scars, smells, the arrangements of a room, a line of a song, the taste of food or drink tried for the first time, the name of the book left open on a bench, a newspaper headline, or, quite often, some irrelevant object on sale in a shop window that I neither admired nor coveted, a bowler-hatted or trilby-shaded face, under a lamppost or in a bar, that I never met or conversed with or wanted to but merely observed — how distinct from the galaxy of Baudelairean passing strangers I longed to know, like the figure in “A une passante”! — come running or lounging or sidling out of the cobwebby dark that has been harboring them for close on three decades. But there are some gaps that no feat of concentration can fill: the missing piece is lost for good. ”
— Patrick Leigh Fermor, from “In Gabrovo.” Featured in: “The Broken Road: From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos,” to be published in March 2014.
Like Martha Gellhorn, what is lost is sometimes better than what is specifically, painstakingly remembered. I’ll keep that in mind for the next time — the infinite times — I will lose my camera or run out of batteries or fail to remember or misremember, etc.