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Away again

May 4, 2016

I love to travel. Is that right? Well, not exactly. I don’t love airports, no matter how overstuffed with shopping opportunities they may be. It takes too long to get to them and the parking lots are confusing. How long-term is long-term parking? It took me a while to understand the meaning of the cell-phone lot.

Those lines to check your baggage are too long. I always feel like just turning around and going home when I see one. And how do you get on the TSA pre-check list? I’m on it but the last time I travelled out of the country, I was pulled out of line for a random search. I’m not complaining. You can search my dead mother if it will make flying safer. But why did they confiscate my agave syrup and not my really sharp tweezers?

I was saying, I love to travel. What I really mean is, I love finding myself in another place. It’s like doing something meaningful without really doing anything meaningful. Unless of course, you’re in the Peace Corps or something.

You don’t have to stick to a diet when you travel. It’s OK to eat grits and ham for breakfast. Have another biscuit, girl. Sleep late and stay up later. Drink liquor and wine in the same evening. Eat dessert. Read. It’s OK to read when you’re away from home. Nothing is waiting for you to finish your book and clean it up. Or feed it. Or take it for a walk. Or play with it. Or clean it up again. I love to read while I’m traveling. I can even read on an airplane. How do they get those little lights to focus so precisely?

Traveling by train is fun. But the sleeping accommodations are not. I prefer hotel beds. If you pick your hotel judiciously, the beds can be better than sleeping at home.

I love driving in new places. I don’t know how I ever managed in the days before GPS and cell phones, but even then I liked finding my way around Detroit or Paris or San Francisco. Again, it’s that sense of accomplishment without really accomplishing much.

Walking is the best way to discover things, although you cover less ground. My favorite photographs are of things like little courtyards in New Orleans. I remember going on a long walk in Paris when I was 18, by myself without a Plan de Paris, and looking up to see the Eiffel Tower in front of me. What a sense of discovery! I must have taken a photograph then but all I have is the memory, which suits me fine.

There are places we go to once in a lifetime, and places we go back to over the course our lives. I went to Hawaii once and will never forget walking over a live volcano with our 22-month-old son in our arms watching the red train of lava flow into the sea steaming and blackening.