2021 began with a migraine.

The familiar knifing of my brain did not let me sleep through the end of Twenty-Twenty. It had tainted every waking moment of the past few days, and now it greeted my morning as if nothing had changed. But things should change — with all hopes having converged toward this new year. It must be a break from a year of stagnated frustration and depleted mirroring of each day with itself. It simply has to. A migraine then.

The clock showed something past eleven. Almost half of the day was already gone without even an insignificant deviation from my past days of Twenty-twenty. Suit yourself. The coffee tasted like custom. The air remained flat, without tension or expectation. I routined the belated morning until my gaze met the lower shelf in my bathroom. A collection of bottles that looked like a carried over relict from some of my lifes past. Chanel. Penhagalion. Tom Ford. Prada. Versace. Amouage. I may have ever mustered the discipline to look like a fashionista, but I sure as hell knew how to smell like one. …

I arrived in Santiago de Compostela today.

Amid the pandemic, an audiobook was probably the only way to go on a pilgrimage. It turned out to be more than just a pastime. The questions that running can answer also arise to me. Maybe that’s why, despite months of hesitation, I decided to write down daily impressions again.

It’s strange listening to yourself thinking again. It’s not quite my own voice yet that I think I hear. But she changes her pitch with a few sentences. Then she trembles and shifts to a pitch with some sentences. Then she trembles again and transforms into a tone of voice that distantly approaches the next words again.

We shall now see to whom these words lead.

A cicada in isolation
Embodies a splendor lost
When seen in a swarm of wings
Criss-crossing in aimless disarray
One wonders of any meaning
While getting lost in a moment
Of insulated serenity

It’s a strange thing, arrogance. You hardly hear arrogance listed as the key defining trait in anyone’s self-description. People like to be likable and to embody socially approved characteristics. Being kind, just, supportive of others, several cookie-cutter virtues. Tell me a little about yourself. Who you want to be. Arrogance is not one of the traits you have on your list of introductions. Although not everyone has the comfort or luxury of abnegating negative social traits. Not everyone fits the social type that turns negative attributes into endearing quirks (as the philosopher Agnes Callard recently talked about).

Once you set out to grasp the concept of arrogance, it becomes clear that arrogance is not something you directly embody. Instead, it is something someone thinks of you. It’s a trait that emerges in relation to another. It originates in interaction. …

Written in the future tense
some of us die in conversation
by the thinner thread
that imbues the air
around the mind held light
And you thought I was laughing
when my words hit the ground
But we wasted just another
sentence without a clause
to speak of ourselves.

“You have no GO energy.”

A sentence that echoed. It etched itself into my presence. Having a lack of energy was not an association you’d think of first if you met me. That buzz of nervous energy became my trademark ever since I could not shake it off as a child. Annoying to some, endearing to others, perhaps. A teacher at school once took me aside: I may be burning the candle on both ends, she said. Too much, too fast. Except for today.

Frankly, I sat on that saddle like a wet sack filled with mud. I think I did move my arms. And I tried to do something with my legs. The horse moved its head, but not much else. I still think he gave me the side-eye. So we stood there for a while. With no GO energy. I did not see any point in moving. Because I did not even know where to go. …

Ann-Sophie Barwich

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