The guy at the trinket shop where I buy my George Harrison pin
is telling the other customer not to bother.
Just do the National Trust tour, he says.
Just go see John’s house and Paul’s house and forget the rest.
Beside he says, the Dingle is a real shithole.
The guy shrugs, folds up his map and pushes open the door
to join the rest of the tourists in Liverpool.
This is the moment I make my decision.
When we ask about a better map,
the guy at the counter tell us there are really
good taxi tours.
You can take a tour, he says, not have to worry.
Besides, it’s too hard on your own.
I know a guy, he tells me, drives one of those cabs,
he knows more about the Beatles than anyone.
I nod, thank him for the water and leave.
We find out about a transit pass.
We mark up the only map we have.
It is paper and vulnerable to rain.
We are not mobile wireless 4G.
We are 3D bodies with handwritten directions
and blisters and sore backs like explorers.
It’s two miles to the first home.
We tie our shoes tight.
When people look at my pictures they shrug.
It’s just a bunch of old houses.
What did you do on vacation, they ask?
They stress the word “do”
I don’t get on the tour bus.
And it’s not a vacation. It’s a trip. There’s a difference.
I want to tell them this but I don’t.
They wouldn’t understand.
When I tried to explain
that finding these people is a kinship
a thing that ties me to the past
to the art that I need.
They shrug and say, I guess, if you’re into that sort of thing.
They don’t see the point.
They ask if I went to see any West End shows.
If I went on the London Eye.
They want better pictures.
I hold the map. We head down Beech Street to Wavertree Road.
He takes the pictures.
By the time we get to Arnold Grove,
where George was born it is raining.
The people that live there
don’t want us around.
We keep our distance on the narrow streets.
We need to see it. We need to know it’s real,
the way we did with the other houses,
the other graves.
We snap just one picture before turning back the way we came.
In the distance, is the Magical Mystery Tour Bus.
It will never fit up those narrow streets.
I wonder what the view is like from up there,
watching a city stream by,
never really seeing it. Never walking its streets
or talking to its people.
He waves to the people in the high seats as the bus passes us.
He tells me, we don’t get on buses.
I nod. It is a pact that we have.
I take out the map.
He takes another picture.
Get me to Penny Lane, he says.
And I do.
There is a reverence to what we do,
to this walk. It is in honor.
It is a thank you for everything we have been given.
A god can be anything that shows up,
just when you need it.
With this map in my hand, this is how I pray.