The Long Way Home


Experimental Travel, or what to do when you can’t go anywhere
May 27, 2009, 8:53 PM
Filed under: Library | Tags:

I found the Lonely Planet book, Experimental Travel, in Ollie’s Bargain Outlet in Greensburg (if you haven’t been to an Ollie’s, and you are driving through small town USA, you really need to pull over and check out one, especially if you are into drugstore overstock and bargain book tables). It’s a ‘how to’ book of off-beat exploration experiments to try when you are broke, afraid, have tried everything crazy there is to do when you travel or if you are just a boring person who has to be told how to think creatively.

But what I love most about this book is that it affirms my views on travel as being not just about physically going to a place, but about stepping outside of your everyday world and into another world. In the chapter “Domestic Travel,” the author asks readers to do just that: Trade places with a family member or friend and live their life for one day, or even a week. “Literary Journey” asks us to walk over to our bookshelves or local libraries and simply read. I spent most of my childhood (and adulthood) buried in books – I love their smell, the cover art, an irregular book size, their tight, clean pages crinkling as I turn them to find out what happens next. They are portable worlds. When I can’t go anywhere, books or exploring my neighborhood as a tourist are all I have to escape ordinary life on days when I really need it.

These suggestions seem really obvious, but it’s hard to put into words sometimes why travel is so much a part of me. I am always dreaming about the next adventure. I remind myself that travel is not about the place, but the people who make up that place. Sometimes I can remember in faded terms the names of monuments or city streets, but I can remember very strongly the people who have affected me.

I miss Tamara in Nova Gorica and Andrija in Osijek and in my mind’s eye I am walking along the train tracks in Nova Gorica. It is March, very windy, my hands in my red coat pockets.  There are palm trees planted in somebody’s back yard on the Italian side of the border, in contrast to the Julian Alps view on the Slovene side. I have a few weeks till I am home again in the States, but I don’t yet know this. It is just enough to be here with no plan, even though it is frightening. It is where I am meant to be at that moment.

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