Setting Myself Free
Nobody yet has written the travel blog for me. Sure, I want to know the right city to see and where the people go to gather at night, or where they walk in the morning mist. But I also want the story of that night when you’re taken in by an older couple on a farm who offer a bed in trade for a few hours of labor the next morning. Of course these are moments found through a decided lack of plans, through an openness and willingness to see those strangers you see in a packed room and, upon the first glance, trust it’s them you’re looking for, since they’ve been waiting for you.
What I want is a story that tells the feeling of a sunset after the rain on the southern coast, and where the people park to take pictures of the mountains when driving through. If you tell me where to go, I’ll go, then walk a hundred steps further as it’s often just beyond where the crowd convenes that holds what the traveler seeks. Sometimes it’s the cliff nearby that takes a little longer to get to, a place to sit alone and think, and if there’s another there we can sit alone together. Those are the people I’m looking to meet.
I’ve been abroad before, wandering with friends through lands unknown till then. I’ve seen so much over so many miles, and I’m not only speaking of those moments in other countries or untraveled states. In the small rural town I’ve been calling home for the past couple years I’ve been known to drive an hour and a half each way to get a cup of coffee at a cafe I’ve never been to. My favorite french toast spot and book shop is two hours round trip. Also, I’ve got no problem walking. It’s slower that way, and you can appreciate the sights for longer than a moment pulled over with an idling car behind. Also, I don’t mind the rain and cold. I turned them into friends long ago.
If I want to read about the political and social climate of a time long ago, I’ll read the novels written then. They provide a truth that journalism can’t, and public figures are unwilling to share. So when I look for writings about the places I’m going, I look for stories of the people there. I want to know about the biggest hotels with the best continental breakfasts, so after camping in a field outside of town I can confidently walk in and grab some waffles with butter. It’s less about your look, and more about your presence. I say this because I’ve done it before. Walk in like you own the place. Cause no stir, but don’t look away. Connect eyes, smile, and comment on the pleasant nature of the bellhops who delivered last night’s room service. Agree that the filet was divine, and nobody will pay any mind to your damp flannel wear and the ragged beard brightened by an awakened smile.
I can’t consciously recommend to anyone that they should fly to another country without any plan, but I’ve been incredibly lucky to live a kind life amidst the chaos and busyness of the modern success driven world. It works out. I can promise you that. But you have to be sturdy, willing, and able to be alone. You need to quickly forgive yourself for mistakes, and think fast on your feet. Talk to strangers and you’ll see. Most people don’t have the energy to be mean, and whatever you are, whatever you do, if you’re completely you, the world will appreciate it. You’ll see.
As a writer, my first inclination for my upcoming adventure was to turn it into a documented experience for the sake of giving that product to the world. Recently I’ve remembered that we don’t throw ourselves into the world with some grand expectation when we’re ready and waiting for anything. These moments are about the higher truth we seek within ourselves. For every warm bed, there’s a bench in the rain with a dead phone and nobody nearby who speaks your language. For every well planned and perfectly executed transit, there’s a three day delay. It’s all alright when you take comfort in the unexpected, and feel at home wherever you go.
More so than ever before, this year of my life has been about building supports, filling in the cracks, and stretching the warn, reclaimed wood of my soul into a shape that can fit in any place. No, it won’t be easy, but easy isn’t fun. And maybe I’ll sit and admit that it’s a luxury to remove myself from my comfort zone, as it shows I’ve taken the chance and chosen to leave a good life. But somewhere there’s a room where everyone is dancing, and they won’t mind one bit when I jump in and stomp along. In fact, I think they’ll be happier that I came. I used to work at a bar, and I remember telling my boss one night that I needed my nights off so I could go sit where the people are, just in case someone I needed to meet sits down next to me. It’s an investment I’m always willing to make.
So, whoever you are, I know you’re out there waiting to find me the same way I’m waiting to find you. I’ll be there soon. I can work a good long day, with a strong back and a smile. I can tell a story over a fire at night, and be up early so breakfast is served when you wake. Most of all, I know that this is what life is meant for. If we’re lucky, and aware that luck can be made, we can take some time to work for what we’re supposed to do. I’m going for an ever growing peace within, and the betterment of a single shared moment with everyone I meet. Every book I read leaves me changed after the last page, and every place I go gives me a new feeling when I wake.
I’ve never known what tomorrow will bring, but that’s always been just fine with me.