Wednesday, July 14, 2010
I have a very distinct memory of sitting on the Mouse House porch-couch a few summers ago, clutching an "Eyewitness Vietnam" guide and explaining how most of the fun of travel - for me - is the relaxing armchair travel. The imagining was the thing.
I meant it, but I also realized that it sounded sad. Obviously, all the books on the history of the Eiffel Tower cannot measure ten minutes of standing in the crowds and summer heat, with its arches like a steel halo over your head. I can't deny this. But I also know that in travel, something always surprises you. One of my strongest memories of Paris in July is the stench of dog poop. Caught off guard (that wasn't in the guidebooks) I wasn't prepared to shrug it off. It was also an earned memory, not borrowed from a book.
My love of arm chair travel means I have several piles of travel writing and guidebook editions to places I've never been. Fifteen dollars, in my mind, is a cheap placebo when you can't finance a summer in Sweden.
In two weeks I'll be in Maine for the first time. My only literary GPS markers for Maine are Bill Bryson and Stephen King, which is unsettling. I've lived in New England and know that the trees grow thick and right up to the edge of the lake. I know Anne of Green Gables lived a few hundred miles northeast. I'm pleased with the holistic route that comes from traveling from Portland to Portland, on opposite coasts. I'll continue to dig into the books and blogs and I am excited about what I'll find.
But I'm sure nothing will match that moment when I see a lobster struggling in a cage in the water, or hear that elusive Maine accent for the first time, or, or, or...that's the part that I have to discover for myself by going, by getting off my proverbial porch-couch, that my books can't experience for me. And if I run into Stephen King when I'm out berry picking, well, I'll be prepared for that too.
Monday, July 5, 2010
Maybe it was the 3,000 straight days of rain and cold and gray. Even though the weather has edged toward and hinted at summer, this fifth day of July, and weathermen are promising it'll completely flip the switch over to 90 tomorrow (from 65 today)...still. Something broke, or at least became undeniable to me. Everything is too tight. Job, little apartment, neighborhood haunts, the city -- and probably if I could afford to escape it, the state and the region. Mama needs a change of pace before it's fall and the gray sets in again, for real.
How to fix this? I'm not sure.
I ironed a giant pile of shirts, for distraction.
I mopped the kitchen floor, for clarification.
I joined my sister on a hike on the coast, for a new perspective (but it was gray there, too).
When mass exodus from your life isn't an option, Oprah-types suggest you hug your tired life in a new way, try to see new details in the old. So. At the beach I examined shells, coves and tidal pools. At home, I rearranged and purged. Still, I feel stuck. I'm thinking maybe I should start doing things backward, for a new perspective. That's how stuck I am. I'll report back, hopefully from a more sunny place.