Thursday June 12, 2014. Yes. Sixteen months. Since I have been on a plane. An interlude. Gaining strength for the last 105 countries. And I’ve had a birthday and no longer have to take off my shoes in the check-in line. Life just keeps getting better and better. Today I even smiled at and joked with Homeland Security. OMG I am turning into a chattery little old lady.
On my way to San Diego for grandson Steven’s college graduation. UC Irvine. Business Econ major. And Barack Obama will deliver the Commencement address. I am excited. We’re proud of Steven and look forward to finally seeing the President deliver one of his fine reasoned articulate speeches of substance and ideas and goals—none of which can become reality because of the CRAZY EVIL REPUBLICANS.
A perfect travel day. Slept late. Puttered. Picked clothes, no stress because it is only a weekend for god’s sake. The same suitcase I will use for 35 days around Africa and the Gulf states and India (been added to previous itinerary) is full for a weekend in San Diego. Checked in with Southwest which I’ve avoided for years but there aren’t so many direct flights. Turns out their cheery chuckles (while maybe a little forced) might be a welcome change from the increased surliness of our major carriers. But maybe all that’s changed since January 2013 when I got off my last flight from the Dominican Republic. So I’ve had a break and now I love Southwest?
Checking out working from a gate seat. With keyboard. Love my Surface. And the two wines I just had. And my life. That I can afford to do this. And that all is right with my world. Now I’m Pollyanna…amazing what a morning off does for one’s attitude.
There is a 100-year-old lady a couple of seats over or at least she appears much older than me. She is tiny and so deeply wrinkled her face is all arroyos, no plains. She is the only person in this gate area without a device, happily reading a real book. She gives me hope—I can get to every-country-in-the-world if I have until 100 to do it.
Another woman with a long strong face and small hair says forcefully, “I thought I was voting for Martin Luther King and but I don’t know who I got, not him for sure.” The man she appears to be directing her remarks to is not paying attention. You know who was the best President we’ve had? Harry Truman. He knew where the buck stopped.”
About my particular parasite—The Travel Bug. It feels good here in the airport. I’ve been planning for the Big Trip, buying tickets, finding hotels, etc. but I was a little bit afraid I might get to the airport and think ‘why am I planning to spend much of the fall in airports all over the world, when I could be home with my stuff and books and bed and car and very own food in the frig?’
It’s all good though. Flight hour and a half delayed, late late lunch at the airport instead of Ocean Beach. And I don’t love Southwest, not for the delay, just for all the ABC’s and the middle seat.
Now it’s evening. I’m in San Diego. Family.
AND THE GOOD NEWS IS…MY TRAVEL MOJO IS BACK!
A chapter of my life is drawing to a close. I have been a performing arts presenter for many years, involving numerous hours of contemporary dance viewing and thousands of miles of international travel. It has been a perfect job and I have loved and appreciated it almost all of the time. And, when one is very lucky, the opportunity to close such a satisfying life chapter on one’s own terms presents itself at just the right moment.
I knew it was that moment, last fall, in one of my favorite cities and countries in the world, Johannesburg, South Africa, at a dance festival brimming over with brilliant artists, great friends and fascinating performances. Instead of reveling in the richness of it all, I found myself depressed and bored except during performances. I felt tired and gray and disinterested in everything else around me. It was either the flu or time to end the presenting part of my life. Turns out both things were true.
Knowing what I knew, I invited two of the artists I admire most to bring their new dance “Inkomati (Dis)cord” to Albuquerque as the closing act of Global DanceFest. I came home, went to bed for a day or so—and got up ready for the next chapter!
The scariest thing about this change of plans was however—not only did I not want to present dance any more—my desire to visit all of the countries in the world seemed to simultaneously vanish. What a shock. How could a goal so integral to my life just evaporate?
Because of a previous commitment I did go to the Dominican Republic (still bored) and Haiti (not bored) over the end-of-year holidays and then on a very big, road trip spring/summer 2013. But that previously omnipresent travel itch felt all scratched and scabbed. I just wasn’t sure I needed to get to the 105 countries left on my list.
Now, thank god, I feel my travel mojo is returning…that first desire or restless stirring—not desire like you want a new car, more like when your peace of mind is interrupted during the first days of a new love, maybe a suggestion of lust disturbing your calm.
I think that’s what I was feeling today when the Thomas Jefferson biography on my nightstand—read through page 37—was replaced by “To the Moon and Timbuktu” and “The Revenge of Geography.” And I noticed last Sunday I went to the travel section of the Times first. And my map of the Arabian Peninsula appeared back on the coffee table. And I started missing Anthony Bourdain. And and and…. Yes, it is back. The itch, the bug, the fever, the lust, whatever you want to call that desire to be moving through the world… out your window a new scene, tonight a new room, tomorrow a new language or food or smell or sight. Yay, it’s back.
THE REAL BIBLE.