“Travel is little beds and cramped bathrooms. It’s old television sets and slow Internet connections. Travel is extraordinary conversations with ordinary people. It’s waiters, gas station attendants, and housekeepers becoming the most interesting people in the world. It’s churches that are compelling enough to enter. It’s McDonald’s being a luxury. It’s the realization that you may have been born in the wrong century. Travel is a smile that leads to a conversation in broken English. It’s the epiphany that pretty girls smile the same way all over the world. Travel is tipping 10% and being embraced for it. Travel is the same white T-shirt again tomorrow. Travel is accented sex after good wine and too many unfiltered cigarettes. Travel is flowing in the back of a bus with giggly strangers. It’s a street full of bearded backpackers looking down at maps. Travel is wishing for one more bite of whatever that just was. It’s the rediscovery of walking somewhere. It’s sharing a bottle of liquor on an overnight train with a new friend. Travel is “Maybe I don’t have to do it that way when I get back home.” It’s nostalgia for studying abroad that one semester. Travel is realizing that “age thirty” should be shed of its goddamn stigma.”
– Nick Miller, Isn’t It Pretty to Think So?
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No one can float forever, like a piece of rotting driftwood. I once thought I could – the times and lessons travel offers are too good, too valuable – but I was kidding myself; everyone must have a home base at some point. Now every country I see, I inspect as one would inspect a house on the market: is it the right size, price? Would it fit my lifestyle? Are there things to do nearby? Is it boring? Should the answer to this last inquiry be yes, much like the real estate question “does it come with an oil tank”, I’m not buying.
Because the truth is, everyone settles down even though this prospect doesn’t always agree with the energies and idealism of youth. So I’m shopping the world for homes, slowly but surely, only knowing for certain that I will not be living in New Jersey or some place equally mediocre. My family laughs at me and says “we’ll see about that”, and then I get defensive and insecure about my dreams. “Are they right?” I nervously wonder. I used to want to drift forever but now I’m shopping for countries. Will I change my mind about abandoning the US as well? Will I settle for the New Jersey suburbs? Will I settle in general? It scares me to know that the possibility always exists, as much as I don’t like to acknowledge it. It scares the hell out of me that my life could turn out completely ordinarily, undistinguishable from any other on paper. That I’ll see opportunities dance by and I’m the awkward middle schooler who keeps to herself by the snack table. That my dreams will go unfulfilled and I’ll move back to my hometown because it’s just what you’re supposed to do.
My family is willing to bet this will happen: “Just wait, you’ll see”, as if they’re the keepers of some secret that hasn’t been divulged to me yet. I speak and act definitively on the matter: “No, you’ll see”, but I’m scared. So I ask – beg – all those who know me, love me, care about me in the slightest possible way: should I ever settle for New Jersey, set my house on fire and push me away.
Maybe all these anxieties are moot. I’m traveling now and will be for the rest of 2012. And even though London isn’t the most exotic of places, good times can be had anywhere if you look for them. The UK is just the beginning; then I’m off to Holland and Sweden and then who knows where – I don’t! I sometimes like to remind myself where I’ve been and where I’m going, and then it’s easy to dismiss this suburb nightmare of mine. It’s easy because I’ve come too far to go back.
Enough of that: some film photos from today. I scoured the city for photo opps yesterday as well, only to find at the end of the day that my camera had no film in it. I was taking imaginary photos of real people, and I can imagine there were some gems in there, something I’m pretty cranky about. Tomorrow is a new day!
Ester, a cool Spanish chick with pumped up kicks.
Obligatory British shot.
Small girl, big camera.
Person, tree, person, tree. It might just go on forever. There is no way of knowing.
Cody, lead singer of the band As Cities Burn, is seriously chill and seriously awesome. Check them out!