Sunday, March 27, 2011

Why I travel

It's sort of funny, lately a whole bunch of things have been conspiring to make me hungrier and more passionate for travel. Life has dealt certain members of my family a tough hand so far this year, and that tends to trickle down the more you care about them. I've spent more time in hospitals and with doctors this year than I care to remember, but now that that hurdle seems to be passed (fingers crossed) it makes me even more determined to squeeze every last minute, every last experience, every last memory out of my trips.

At the same time, I keep seeing friends and family making posts on Facebook that go on and on about how concert tickets, flashy cars and expensive trips abroad all have a price tag, but that kiss from a sloppy toddler is priceless. Or how thrilled they are that they get to spend school vacation week at home with their elementary aged children. After a while, I see enough of these public declarations from the same folks (and sometimes almost immediately after I've posted photos from my trips) to wonder just who they're trying to convince, themselves or their Facebook connections?

I haven't yet found the viral status update for the 40-year old single chick who saves pennies and works solely to buy kibble for her cat and pay for the next trans-oceanic adventure. I'm not sure I need to make that statement though. I don't need to convince myself of that, I know that to be true. I'm pretty certain I don't need to convince my Facebook friends either; if they know me at all they know this to be true.

So why is this travel thing like a crack addiction to me? Good question. And it just may be that I can't explain it. It may be so individual to me that no one else will ever understand. But there is just something about a trip, those singular experiences strung together into a week or two weeks or even a weekend, that still take my breath away. Seeing St. Basil's Cathedral through the grid of the gate to Red Square, looking out over a lush, green valley full of grapevines in Tuscany, smelling the competing scents of lemon and olive groves in Sorrento, admiring the crown jewels in London, peeking at Westminster Abbey from the top of the London Eye, coming face to face with a Vermeer, a Rembrandt, a Picasso, a Michelangelo that I've only ever seen in books. All of this gives me a rush. When things I have admired remotely are there in my foreground, all of a sudden I'm charged up. I'm on fire. I'm visually, mentally, aromatically, tactilely eating it up. And I lock these flashes of magic away for later. For the morning when it's just too discouraging to face another day with miserable people on the train or at work, for the next time I'm passing time waiting for a relative at a hospital, driving from here to there, or even just on the odd occasion that something else I've seen or heard brings me back to that moment. I haven't done drugs, but I imagine that a good trip on your drug of choice likely rivals my own "trip".

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