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Magic Exists

and I'm here to prove it

By Matthew FrommPublished 30 days ago Updated 30 days ago 5 min read
Amsterdam, the Netherlands (all photos taken by me)

The best trip I’ve ever taken is no trip at all.

It’s semantics, really, but a trip assumes a destination, and since this trip has no Terra firma destination, I would describe it as a quest.

Furthermore, if we follow the traditional definition of "trip", going from upright (or Point A) to the ground (or Point B), this quest simply must be separated from a trip as it has many twists, turns, layovers, and tangents, all while being interspersed with a good helping of general meandering.

You see, It’s the quest to prove that magic exists.

Because, frankly, it does. Of this, I am certain.

But oddly, if there is one thing I struggle to write about, it’s this quest.

Every great fantasy story has the bard, the chronicler, the world singer… This world is no different, but despite the siren's pull, I struggle to fit that role.

Gasp. That statement would come as an absolute shock to anyone who knows me because I usually don’t shut up about it. Oops.

I keep writing and then deleting blurbs about my favorite cities, then writing again, only to inevitably delete them and carry on.

It’s a twofold struggle. First, two of my heroes, Anthony Bourdain and Jimmy Buffett, represent two of the greatest modern humanist Bards ever to walk this earth (the irony of which is not lost on me–Tony Bourdain despised Jimmy Buffett).

While the hobbyist in me tries never to measure against professionals, on this topic, my internal critic beats me upside the head with my copy of Kitchen Confidential. I’ll get to the second struggle later.

But maybe I should be the bard of this quest because I know for a fact magic exists. I have seen it firsthand.

How else can I explain stepping off a train and appearing in a land of knights?

Canterbury, England (taken by me)

How else can I explain animagi in an Edinburgh pub?

Edinburgh, Scotland (taken by me)

How else can I explain the intoxicating love charms produced under the Parisian stars?

Paris, France (taken by me)

How else can I explain immortality entombed in carved stone and brush strokes?

Palace of Versailles (taken by me)

How else can I explain beauty so tangible it could almost turn my heretical heart?

St. Chapelle, Paris (taken by me)

How else can I explain conjuring dreams into reality?

Stamford Bridge, London (My wife is the Chelsea Supporter) (taken by me)

How else can I explain alchemy of the highest order in the streets of Lisbon?

Encanto, Lisbon (the best meal of my life) (taken by me)

How else can I explain fairy tale castles tucked away into the mountains where only dragons may fly?

Pena Palace, Sintra, taken by me

And how else can I explain watching with my own eyes as the breath of the ancient gods descends upon our humble human realms?

Seattle, Washington (taken by me)

Real magic is the only way I can’t explain it.

Sadly, I think there are many among us who vehemently want to deny its existence.

I adore Paris–fell in love with the city in about ten minutes of walking off the train. I constantly hear a refrain as an American, a refrain against the city’s magic.

“Aren’t Parisians rude?”

I think they wield different magic, and that scares a lot of people.

While checking into the Hôtel des Marronniers–strongly recommended—we watched the receptionist switch from French to Spanish to German to perfect English to greet us within four conversations. I knew service there was another level, yet it still blew me away. As someone who struggles with foreign languages, that is Gandalf-level magic.

One night, we went to a bistro for dinner. After a few niceties with our waiter (man, do they know their wines?), we enjoyed a lovely conversation (but short, of course–he was a busy man) with him. As we were slurping down everything with truffles on the menu, we watched another American family come in and sit across from us. I know they were American because they were not particularly quiet about it. Snappy, inattentive of their surroundings, and in a rush for something that they overbooked, I have a hunch that they told someone later, “Parisians are rude.”

I could see that they did not appreciate the magic.

I could have imagined all of this. All those kind Parisians could have been shit-talking the minute I turned my back (or, to my face. My French is at a three-year-old level at best).

But I cannot deny that the service we experienced was wizardry, and I’m certain I did not imagine it.

I wonder if “Parisians are rude” may just be a dog whistle for “I couldn’t talk down to them.”

I’ll let you decide.

But I hinted earlier at a second struggle, a greater struggle, a struggle with my own privileged touristic voyeurism.

When I pen a piece of fiction, I can control the empathetic response to a certain degree. I can control the viewpoints. Essentially, I can write things into existence. But who am I to say the glances and glimmers I glean from a few days, or some places a few hours, are even true? Who am I to extract some deeper meaning from watching countless and nameless others go about their day? And does it make me a good person that I find such fascination with being amongst them as they do like some Victorian explorer hacking through the jungle to watch the natives in their natural habitat?

Am I not stealing their magic for my own pleasure?

But all of that aside, no matter what, I’ll always know I’m little more than an interloper. How can I write about these wondrous places when I don’t think I could ever truly be a part of them?

And, more importantly, how can I reconcile that I am one of the most very privileged few who can magically hop borders for pleasure while so many countless others face life and death for a simple chance to do the same, only to be denied entry upon arrival?

It makes me feel like a gawker watching the zebra gallop at a zoo so I can dream I’m on a safari.

It’s not going to stop me from questing, stop me from indulging in the food and the culture of far-flung lands with the hope I can use that magic to better myself and my community.

But it will stay my hand in writing about them for my own pleasure. I’ll keep that magic box closed and tucked in my heart. Not all spells need to be unleashed.

For a long time, my greatest dream was to be the next great travel writer–to be the next Bourdain.

I’ve grown to realize that I don’t want to be the bard for this quest.

But fear not; the quest will go on.

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About the Creator

Matthew Fromm

Full-time nerd, history enthusiast, and proprietor of random knowledge. The best way to find your perfect story is to write it yourself.

Here there be dragons, and knights, and castles, and quests for entities not wishing to be found.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (4)

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  • Hannah Moore28 days ago

    I'm very much aware of the magic you talk about. But I feel fewer qualms about trying to get a piece of it. Perhaps because I see it at home as well as away, and it's all the same magic.

  • Cathy holmes29 days ago

    I'm not sure I've ever looked at someone's travel pictures and described them as "magical." You changed that with this piece. Your photos are beautiful, but it's your words that bring out the magic. This is an excellent entry. Good luck.

  • Sian N. Clutton30 days ago

    This was beautiful. I can't travel myself, but to read about your adventures put to paper so elegantly, I feel like I did. Stunning pictures by the way.

  • Lamar Wiggins30 days ago

    Wow! Now I’m a believer. I absolutely loved the convincing format you used to prove the existence of magic. Very effective writing, Matt! Editorial note: unless you have already fixed it, there is a duplicate paragraph that you probably intended to remove. Great entry!!!

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