I imagine myself as a worldly gentleman from the early 1900’s.
Dressed in tweed jacket, a bowler hat and even handling a lengthy walking stick, I’m walking the streets of Southampton, whistling away as I head towards the port. Cobblestone streets flow with grime and filth, but fresh ocean breeze washes my nostrils – a breeze I would feel in my nose for the next week or so!
Awaiting me at the port, moored like a huge metallic rhino with four horns is RMS Mauretania, the most prestigious ocean liner, a shining star amidst the slowly rotting fishing boats and much smaller commercial vessels around it. A long line of passengers, like a black snake, squirms its way to into the belly of this huge, smoke-erupting monster, bound to take me to the New World to meet my fate – be it riches beyond my imagination, or gruesome death in the gutter, penniless and failed.
As I approach the boat, I see my luggage, which I already sent forth from the train station with a carriage, being loaded onboard the ship. While hundreds of pieces of luggage still remain on the side of the ship, my bright yellow case catches my eye, stuffed under the earthly possessions of so many others. Mine contains nothing but the essentials for the journey, rest I can acquire as I arrive to the port of New York.
Ahead of me lies a journey across the great Atlantic Ocean! Seagulls will scream their farewell as the Royal Mail Ship blows its fog horns and bravely heads for the open seas!
By all means, not the most luxurious of ships, but certainly the biggest in the world and while rumours of even bigger ones being built have long circulated among us, world travellers, Mauretania is as good as it gets. Comfortable, with professional staff taking care of the passengers – and fast. Traveling to United States can take just under a week, if weather allows – this time, the journey will take longer.
This is passable for me, greatly so. I’m actually keenly looking forward for the isolation from the buzz of the city, the constantly beating clock, reminding us not to waste one single second of our precious time. The rushing through the early morning traffic, avoiding being crushed under the cartwheels or trampled by horses, or, better yet, being punched aside by one of the new automobiles the rich folk seem so endeared of.
No, I want to feel the salty sparkles of waves crashing on the side of the behemoth of a boat, smell the cool morning wind which mixes with the dusty, greasy and metallic smell of the residue of the steam engine that’s pushing us over those waves, relentlessly. Laughing at the sorrows of generations past, to men who struggled to cross even the English canal, this magnificent ship is a pinnacle of man’s creativity, as if heavens had opened and shone light on a brand new world, world of mechanics, engines and raw, un-manned power that’s lifting us on its’ shoulders, rising us finally, inseparably above the beasts roaming the Earth.
After a nautical breakfast, consisting of fish, mackerels, salmon and pickled herring, topped with English toast, light brown crust, medium heat, eggs, of course, and some marmalade, I would head back to my cabin. There, there lies the real beast I must tame, one which doesn’t roar, only bangs; one that has fangs which bite, but not in physical sense – but these fangs, they are capable of causing much deeper wounds, but also capable of healing them.
The beast I call “Uncle Undie”, a name coming from the golden letters, now slightly worn, embroidered on its’ gleaming black side: “Underwood”. “Undie” feeds on paper – which I have wisely packed ample amounts, almost as a reminder from an earlier journey I might have done, one where I ran out of it, leaving me as useless as a castaway on an island with nothing but one palm tree on.
These days I have devoted completely to “Undie”, and can’t be distracted from its’ call. I have a screenplay I will need to finish before I arrive to America, and it became painfully clear I could not achieve that in London, or even before that, in Finland, my home country. This journey – no, a wrestling match, will result in either me maimed and torn to pieces – or the beast, tamed.
I expect nothing less of a bloody struggle ahead of me, but I’m gallant and ready, steadily facing the task in front of me.