Tuesday, February 7, 2012

On Travel


A friend is traveling overseas on business soon. It would be fun to tag along, even though I've been there quite a bit. Though it would have been interesting to have been up in Devon in England in time for Christmas, as a local article on the local Woolacombe Bay Hotel said their three night Christmas break included "a packed program of entertainment, a Crèche , excellent cuisine and a visit from Satan." (Do you find a burning coal on your pillow instead of a mint?)


Though I do miss Barkley when I travel. 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. If I'm tired, I will sacrifice those small pieces of fabric to his primal urges til he tires of carrying them around unharmed and curls up to sleep.


Tonight, I sorted out some photos from my last trip overseas and downloaded them to my back up hard drive. The older I get, the more I enjoy these nights at my home, or with my best friend, 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, even though it included days I woke up not knowing what country I was in, or cellophane wrapped airport food that was carbon dated for freshness.


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 there 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. No computer, phone off. I like that sometimes. Quiet nights with maybe only a candle to light the room, flame spurting with abandon into life. Standing at the window looking at a landscape that is as old as thought, breathing deep and slow, each breath diffusing into layers of history.


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 ironed your whole shirt or checked your voice mail. There is no urgent need to strike off each day toward some purpose, some deadline. You wake in the dewgray of morning, becoming a godlike creature of choice, free to visit stately churches, snuggle into crisp sheets, or sketch the marvel of a bridge.


You're open, if only for a short time, as if newly born, to receive all of the world, not just your own space, to break out of that circle of all you have done and all that you can never undo. It is all there for the taking, multicolored flowers in bright density, the smell of fresh bread baking, the kiss of wine on your lips. You are a hunter free to explore and seek and find, and then return home bringing memories to lay on the sanctity of your doorstep.

My big suitcase is in the closet. There is no telling what stories it might bring back.

28 comments:

  1. Despite enjoying time away, we likewise find that the concept of "home again" carries its own magic or, perhaps mystique.

    But quietly taking in all the new sights and sounds, in a new destination? Oh, yes.

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  2. North- I assume there is no such thing as Economy class on that airline!

    As much as I like to travel, as Rev. Paul says "home again" makes it that much more special.

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  3. Very well said, and +1 on Rev Paul's comment too!

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  4. Keads: The in-flight meals are great!

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  5. The first time I saw these pics, I knew you had another most excellent layer. You have to "see" it before you shoot it, and black and white doesn't lie. Mmm. Mmm. Mmm.

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  6. Thank you for this great piece of writing. My wife and I are longing to go on an overseas trip soon. We've become somewhat like the folks who haven't left their small hometown in years.

    I'll share this post with her. Once she's inspired, things usually get rolling!

    Take care -

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  7. Rev Paul - oh yes indeed.

    North - not ever to be confused with Frigidaire. I hope your bride is over her "bug" and is feeling better.

    Keads - that would be a no.

    Stephen - I took these all in Ireland with a super cheap $100 point and shoot. There are more but these were a few of my favorite places (Donegal, Northern Ireland Coast and Dublin)

    Casey - thank YOU. I hope you and your bride go, and have a wonderful trip.

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  8. Wow! You shot those with a PhD (push here dummy) Camera? I am totally impressed! As Stephen said "You need to see the shot before you take it." Just like Firearms.

    Photography still vexes me! Not so with you.

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  9. Keads - my most expensive camera cost $160. I don't have photoshop. It's not about the camera it's about the light. I just see something and go "ah ha" and take it. I get lucky sometimes.

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  10. B.- I started a long time ago with a Canon T-50 35mm. Then I progressed from there. Current camera is a Canon PowerShot SX130Is. I have PS and Fireworks.

    Perhaps a bit less thinking and a bit more passion? That might be true in other pursuits as well. I can over think just about anything!

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  11. North, I have a complete spare T-50 with several lenses and filters. We will not talk about the family member that develops film.

    I am so depressed!

    B.- I would always rather be lucky than good if I had to choose one! Ah ha moments are rare for me. Lighting does seem to be the 90 percent rule.

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  12. Excellent post, even when blogging from undisclosed locations.

    And in recognition, I award you this award.

    http://lagniappeslair.blogspot.com/2012/02/back.html

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  13. To be home again is to relive those moments of torture in crowded airports, plastic trays n plastic lines. Then there is the moment to review the day and the memories of the joys between the destinations. The language of the traveler is not spoken but taken in, read without words. The destinations are in slides and now on memory chips to be savored at my convenience.

    Fly on, make more memories.

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  14. I wish I could write like THAT.
    Thank you.

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  15. We've always talked about going back overseas to some of our old haunts.
    This piece just makes me want to go more than ever.
    Loved the pictures.

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  16. I love to travel. Anywhere really, but overseas is magical. I haven't been that many places, but every where I have been I have loved.

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  17. Travelling is one of the greatest experiences you can have (I believe). The joy of experiencing somewhere new, for the first time, either as past of a group or on your own. Trying to organise a trip for a group though, somehow not the greatest experience!

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  18. While travel is enjoyable, it brings renewed freshness to returning home.

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  19. Kneads - what you said! Some of the best pictures I've taken were simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

    I have one I shot at the Midwest Old Threshers reunion in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa of a grandfather showing his two grand kids something on a Case 110 steam engine. At the time I was waiting very impatiently for them to move out of the way so that I could get a "clean" shot of the engine. I finally just tripped the shutter and walked away. It wasn't until I had the slides developed that I realized what I had...

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  20. Kneads - what you said! Some of the best pictures I've taken were simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

    I have one I shot at the Midwest Old Threshers reunion in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa of a grandfather showing his two grand kids something on a Case 110 steam engine. At the time I was waiting very impatiently for them to move out of the way so that I could get a "clean" shot of the engine. I finally just tripped the shutter and walked away. It wasn't until I had the slides developed that I realized what I had...

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  21. Only problem I see in overseas travel would be that you have to do it on a commercial airliner. Kind of like wearing shoes that are too small for you because it feels SO GOOD when you take them OFF...Ugh!

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  22. The last time I was in Budapest I thought how funny - so far from home, knowing no one, walking amidst a city of inhabitants with their own problems, joys and ideas. It was cathartic.

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  23. Referred here by one of my blog readers. I am so glad I jumped over here to visit your site. Awesome blog!

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  24. Brigid - I was given note card that have some lovely pictures of Europe on the front and the saying,
    "The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page." Saint Augustine

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  25. So nice. I'm strangely at peace and relaxed when I travel. I love new experiences.

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  26. Whitepark bay, one of my favourite places. I did the whole (don"t spit) hippy thing and went there on the summer solstice to watch the sunrise a couple of times in the 90s. Camera on tripod shooting transparency film in 35mm and 6x7. Got some lovely photos.
    One year I took a couple of friends as I had been raving on about how great it was. Lots of coffee to stay awake as sunrise was at 3.45am or thereabouts. Great sunrise and then a couple of whites horses run towards us from the other end of the beach. They stop and do that horsey cough thing, realise we have no nice things for them to eat and one of them thumps one of my friends in the torso with it's head and with that they thunder off in the direction they came from. Too weird. Been back and can't work out where the horses could get onto the beach from. Just thought I'd share.

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  27. Hi Brigid

    If you are coming to Devon drop me a line you will be just down the road. I will arrange some dear stalking or at least a blast on a rsnge.

    Ghostrifle

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I started this blog for family that lives far away. Now that they are gone, it continues on to share those memories.

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