Somewhere along the line i attached a sort of mystical significance to travel. Perhaps it’s because there was so little of it when i was growing up that sometimes, yes, travel was a mystical experience. I will always love screened-in porches because i fell in love with the porch at my great-aunt’s house in New Jersey during a visit to go to the shore when i was about 5 or so. It’s an outside space, and yet it is also inside! You can sleep there at night without getting bitten to death by bugs! You can enjoy a thunderstorm there without getting utterly soaked!!
So i love travel. I get deeply cross when travel goes awry, whether cancelled outright or, most upsetting of all, when travel plans get scrambled while i am in the middle of them. I am at my most contented when i can spend a few days in a place without expectations: waking in the same bed in a new city for a week, enjoying local restaurants, poking around the foreign streets and shops and making them mine for a little while, sitting in a park and just breathing.
But i also have an increasingly lousy memory. Mind like a steel sieve, i say! And while i photograph up a storm when i’m traveling, the one thing i always, always fail to do is write anything. Thank god for the travelogue the_andy kept when we were in Dublin and the U.K. in 2009 — between his diary and my photos, it’s like having my own memories of things.
To a certain extent, i hate pausing in my travel days to write it all down. I want to experience it all and not just reduce it down to a litany of Things Done. I’m reminded of the lament of a fellow poet i knew at my 2nd college: I’m caught between the 2 pressures of wanting to be out living experiences, and wanting to have some quiet time to write about everything i’ve been doing.
How do i choose? How do i balance? How do i remember everything i’ve done, while at the same time finding a way to also record all the minute, near-invisible emotions and reactions i have to everything new i experience when traveling? I don’t just want to remember the bones of my travel adventures, but all the connective tissues of how i’ve sensed everything, how i’ve interpreted it all, how it’s affected and changed me.
I crave the collection of data, but the songs written from those notes are just as important.
I need to find the balance between scientist and poet. To find a way to pull the mystical out of the minutiae.