Towers, Temples, Palaces: Essays From Europe out now!
Novelist, entomologist and cat owner. Ryan Frawley is the author of many articles and stories and one novel, Scar, available from online bookstores everywhere.
The Old Man, the Haircut, and the Four Days of Naples
I held my phone ready in my hand. A trick I learned. When you live in a country whose language you don’t speak, even the simplest tasks become exponentially more difficult. But at one point, after a haircut I was particularly pleased with, I had the foresight to take a selfie and store it in my phone. I didn’t have to rely on my nonexistent Italian to tell the barber what I wanted. I only needed to show him a picture.
Ostia Antica: The Other Pompeii
The hand that used to hold the knife is gone. But the same sunlight still comes streaming down from the trapdoor above, illuminating the cold and changeless features of a forgotten god. The bull is still there too, its head pulled back, throat exposed for the vanished blade. Damp ferns grow around the edges of the skylight above the marble statue.
Budapest and the Fine Art of Missing Everything
“Where are you guys from?” The young man’s face was pockmarked with acne. His sandy blonde hair was swept back and held in place with a generous amount of some pungent product. On his chest, a bullet dangled from a long silver chain.
Tired Of London
It was two o’clock in the morning. No good ideas come to you at two o’clock in the morning. Lying there wide awake in the darkness of a too-small, too-expensive hotel room, my circadian rhythm torn to shreds by a long flight and a fugitive sun, I found myself wondering if I even enjoy travel any more. Who would, when it looks like this?
Diesel Fumes, Dictatorship, and the Most Beautiful City You’ve Never Been To
The fumes of Havana filled the street. The diesel stink contaminates everything. The famous cars, meticulously maintained since the 1950s, look gorgeous in photographs but suck the oxygen out of the breathless air.
Tourists, Bears, and Not a Poet in Sight
From the weather-swollen planks of the picnic table, I watch them come up from the lake. Sometimes alone. More usually in groups. Young couples give way to young families, followed by squawking teenagers. At the back, old people cling to one another, taking their time on the slow rise to the car park.
Beginner’s Mind and the Reclaiming of Awe
Up here, sound travels strangely. Human voices echo and waver, bouncing off sun-striped sea and granite cliffs. You can hear the voices of passengers in boats a kilometre away, every word carried to shore by the action of tiny indestructible waves.
Down and Out on the French Riviera
I started meditating in France. Every morning, I would step out onto the huge balcony, carpeted with fake green grass. The Southern sun would already be hot and strong, even in winter. The retractable awning hummed as I lowered it, settling myself into the rented wicker furniture to close my eyes and focus on my breath.
Ghosts, Gold, and Gratitude in BC’s Most Popular Park
As soon as I climbed into the boat, I knew it was a mistake. Not all kayaks are created equal. Some are heavy and slow, but almost untippable. Others are light and fast and precarious. Ever the gentleman, I let my wife’s nervousness convince me to offer her the steadier kayak. And while she paddled off contentedly over the lake’s green water, I launched myself from the beach and almost instantly capsized.