I'm going overseas after the first of the year. A conference in London. Then a short flight, small car, a map of Ireland and I'll be all set. Though it would be interesting to go be up in Devon in England in time for Christmas as a local article on the Woolacombe Bay Hotel said "their three night Christmas break includes a packed program of entertainment, a Crèche , excellent cuisine and a visit from Satan". And to think all I'm going to offer is ham and homemade rolls at my house.
I travel for work a lot, so actually going somewhere where I can sleep in a real bed, at my own schedule for a few days is going to be a treat. But I'll miss Barkley. Like all labs, Barkley is bred to hunt so when he gets bored sitting next to me when I write, he's turning his keen seek-and-destroy instincts, not on pheasants, but on dishtowels. If the edge of one nears the end of the counter he grabs it like a relay runner taking the baton and runs off with his prey. It's sort of been an emotionally brutal week and I'm too tired to chase him, so for today, I will sacrifice those small pieces of fabric to his primal urges.
Tonight as I do some housekeeping, I sorted out some photos from my last trip overseas. The older I get the more I enjoy these few nights at home, but the photos brought back memories of all the travel I've done in my career. By choice or not, it was part of the job. But travel brings something to you that people who live in the insular world of their home town their whole lives miss. That's not necessarily bad, some of the best adventures are on your own doorstep, in small places right around the block. But their is something about traveling far away, where the words that roll off the tongue carry a lilt of past lives. Where you are looking at things that have been in view for hundreds and hundreds of years. You look through new, but ancient eyes. It pushes your boundaries.
When you travel, you can become invisible, if that is what you choose. That is what I do, no podcast, no live feed of what I do each day while I travel. I like that. I like to be the quiet observer. Walking alone along the edge of another ocean, as it stretches away into space with it's illusion of freedom. Strolling through the celestial hush of a 500 year old square, the sun glinting off marble where the monotonous rain has washed it bright. What stories would that old building tell, what makes these people who they are? Could I live this life if I stayed here?You don't have to understand the language that is spoken, only the language of the streets, the scents, the stone. Without understanding a word around you the language becomes simply a musical background for watching the water flow onto the shore or a leaf blowing in the wind, calling nothing from you. Travel eases restrictions and expectations. No one cares if you have that document reviewed by Monday, or if you put on lipstick or checked your voice mail. You become a godlike creature of choice, free to visit stately churches, make love in the morning late, if just in your dreams, or sketch a church tower. You're open, if only for a short time, as if a child, to receive all of the world, not just your own. It is all there for the taking, multicolored flowers in bright density, the smell of fresh bread baking. You are a hunter free to explore and seek and find, and then return home bringing memories to lay on your doorstep.
My big suitcase is in the closet. There is no telling what stories it might bring back,