Pull up your socks and grab your shoes, it's time to get a move on!
Now, I can’t back this up with any particular empirical data, but I think it’s fair to say that I get a hankering to travel, to be in favorite Other places, about as often as a teenaged boy thinks about sex. It’s pretty rare that I’m not mentally meandering in München, Vancouver, Boquete, London, Veszprém, Stockholm, Prague, Chicago, Toronto, Wexford . . . no matter what else I’m ostensibly occupied with doing. It’s not that I never want to be where I am or doing what I’m genuinely supposed to do, it’s just . . . .
I blame my sister. Aren’t eldest siblings supposed to carry the burden of blame for all their successors’ lives, deeds and foolishness anyway? It was she who first infected me with the travel virus when we were in college and her senior year concluded with her in a study-abroad program in London, from whence she had written me innumerable tantalizing letters and tortured me with promises of every kind of impossible delight if I’d only join her for travel after the school year ended. She was so unrelentingly and unreasonably picturesque and dramatic in her enticements that another of our sisters hastened over with two cousins to join her for a couple weeks’ gallivant before I could even gather up passport and toothbrush, as soon as her own school duties were wrapped up for the year. But yes, I too succumbed to big sister’s blandishments and by the first week in September of that year had effectively crammed all of the next semester’s monies, my other puny savings, a couple pair of jeans and several sweaters and a ‘space blanket’ into a big fat backpack and joined her in London almost as soon as our other relatives had returned stateside.
Of course, our parents bear some guilt in my infection too, having permitted me to squander college time and money (on the tacit understanding that I would still graduate on time, however I should manage that–and I did) and dodge my worldly responsibilities for a semester like that. Perhaps it was good parental medical wisdom, knowing that a semester of autodidactic meandering in Europe would likely do more to cure my sophomore blues than hunkering down in the familiar trenches of the university might. Still, letting your kids wander the Continent incontinently–no, not in that way, just somewhat at random and on our varying whims–takes a certain amount of parental fortitude and perhaps a smidgen of cheerful insanity.
Our younger sisters share in the fault for poisoning me against staying safely home: here a sibling younger than me successfully and rather fearlessly went off on just such a jaunt before I even dared. And our youngest sister was already past-master at asking all of the questions we elder three dared not, convincing Mom and Dad of her or our suitability for all manner of things they’d surely have been perfectly within their parental parameters to deny us, and otherwise paved the way for us older girls in numerous ways uncommon among the Baby Sister set. So I guessed I’d damn well better yank up my bootstraps and steel my one non-gelatinous nerve and get on over the pond too. Can’t be shown up by the young’uns.
Of course, as some of the worst offenders when it came to creating the monster of travel-lust that I became, the record must clearly indict all of those unnaturally great and groovy people that greeted, enveloped, adopted, fed, housed, tour-guided, coddled and otherwise ruined for any normal and useful life my sister/travel companion and me. In three and a half months, about thirteen countries, and countless escapades large and small, I gained memories and insights and skills and joys enough to fuel an entire lifetime–and also to infest my soul with burgeoning urges for more.
It’s not that I can’t ever sit still or love where I am or what I’m doing. At times I am the world’s champion homebody and love nothing nearly so dearly as to hole up in a soft blanket in a deep chair safely at home with my constant companion and current fellow-traveler, my spouse. But honey, he’s just as dangerous when it comes to feeding my need to wander and indulge in any road trip, voyage, or other traveling enterprise that might come into view. Once bitten and all of that, yes, but I’m only that much more itchy-footed since he and I ganged up, he having been just as deeply intoxicated as I before we ever joined expeditionary forces. At least it’s mighty handy that not only is he a suitcase-silly hit-the-road guy just as I am but is also a devoted fantasist in the same vein. So whether we’re in our own living room or circling the globe at 30,000 feet, it’s safe to say there won’t be much time when we’re not plotting the next trip and dreaming up what to do in the new town or country we’re about to discover. Real or otherwise. After all, even the most tangible and widely-known places have their mysteries, and that, my dears, is yet another reason I can’t be blamed for this my infirmity.
I won’t see all of the world in my lifetime, am not even sure if that matters, and it’s highly dubious at best that I will change the world. But I sure do love living in the world, and seeing how it changes me. Mostly for the better, I’ll wager. Now, where is that train ticket?