Thursday, November 19, 2009

Road Warrior

I went and applied for a new passport Friday as my old had expired. I have one of the "red" ones for work, but I can't use that if part of the trip is for vacation/personal travel. So I got the standard blue one. No smiling, as I was told, as they took my picture. That's fine, that will be my expression after spending 10 hours on an airplane anyway.

I'm going overseas after the first of the year. A conference in London. Then a short flight, small car, a map of Ireland and I'll be all set. Though it would be interesting to go be up in Devon in England in time for Christmas as a local article on the Woolacombe Bay Hotel said "their three night Christmas break includes a packed program of entertainment, a
Crèche , excellent cuisine and a visit from Satan". And to think all I'm going to offer is ham and homemade rolls at my house.

I travel for work a lot, so actually going somewhere where I can sleep in a real bed, at my own schedule for a few days is going to be a treat. But I'll miss Barkley. Like all labs, Barkley is bred to hunt so when he gets bored sitting next to me when I write, he's turning his keen seek-and-destroy instincts, not on pheasants, but on dishtowels. If the edge of one nears the end of the counter he grabs it like a relay runner taking the baton and runs off with his prey. It's sort of been an emotionally brutal week and I'm too tired to chase him, so for today, I will sacrifice those small pieces of fabric to his primal urges.

Tonight as I do some housekeeping, I sorted out some photos from my last trip overseas. The older I get the more I enjoy these few nights at home, but the photos brought back memories of all the travel I've done in my career. By choice or not, it was part of the job. But travel brings something to you that people who live in the insular world of their home town their whole lives miss. That's not necessarily bad, some of the best adventures are on your own doorstep, in small places right around the block. But their is something about traveling far away, where the words that roll off the tongue carry a lilt of past lives. Where you are looking at things that have been in view for hundreds and hundreds of years. You look through new, but ancient eyes. It pushes your boundaries.

When you travel, you can become invisible, if that is what you choose. That is what I do, no podcast, no live feed of what I do each day while I travel. I like that. I like to be the quiet observer. Walking alone along the edge of another ocean, as it stretches away into space with it's illusion of freedom. Strolling through the celestial hush of a 500 year old square, the sun glinting off marble where the monotonous rain has washed it bright. What stories would that old building tell, what makes these people who they are? Could I live this life if I stayed here?You don't have to understand the language that is spoken, only the language of the streets, the scents, the stone. Without understanding a word around you the language becomes simply a musical background for watching the water flow onto the shore or a leaf blowing in the wind, calling nothing from you. Travel eases restrictions and expectations. No one cares if you have that document reviewed by Monday, or if you put on lipstick or checked your voice mail. You become a godlike creature of choice, free to visit stately churches, make love in the morning late, if just in your dreams, or sketch a church tower. You're open, if only for a short time, as if a child, to receive all of the world, not just your own. It is all there for the taking, multicolored flowers in bright density, the smell of fresh bread baking. You are a hunter free to explore and seek and find, and then return home bringing memories to lay on your doorstep.

My big suitcase is in the closet. There is no telling what stories it might bring back,

23 comments:

  1. Brigid,

    Enjoy your trip, may the Lord provide you traveling mercies. I too get to travel a lot for work and the years I spent overseas were very important and left their mark on me. One of the things travel always does for me is remind me how much I love beina an American, and how important home is.

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  2. Have a grand adventure. Just the thought of being out-of-country stirs old memories. Air sweet with a tinge of licorice. Moist sea soaked breezes pushing in from the port. Slippery treads of mud soaked stairs. But the most important memory of all, the swell within my heart upon returning to freedom, of not waking up with a rifle in my chest, taking photos without first scanning for milatary observers, speaking thoughts outloud with no fear of imprisonment.
    I pray everyday that we retain these freedoms, because I still remember their loss, an oppressing sense of tyrany and dictatorship. Where a friend went to work one day and returned 6 months later. Little talk of where/why, only gratitue that he returned no longer a desaparecido (disappeared one). http://www.yendor.com/vanished/

    Go n-eiri do bhothair leat.

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  3. London and then Ireland. Wonderful. Enjoy and many happy memories. Did you notice the new "format" for the passports?
    YeOldFurt

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  4. Lovely, as always. May God speed you on your travels, refresh your soul, and bring you safely home again.

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  5. We will await hungrily those stories. I in particular am already struggling to be patient for your account of the visit from...could it be? Oh...I don't know...SATAN???

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  6. Have a great trip!
    When I went for my TWIC, they not only told me "NO smiling" for my picture, they also made me take my glasses off.
    Oh, well....it's the gubmint, so what do you expect?

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  7. Enjoy your trip and may the travel Gods bring you home safely.

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  8. Thank you. All of you. It will be in the first week of February so hopefully not too cold. The conference is just a couple of days, then hopefully up to 4 days playing tourist using vacation days and some savings. It's been 6 years since I've been over and if I remember, there are some really decent days during that time, though chilly.

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  9. Then and now, May your pleasures be many, your troubles be few, and may the Blessings of God totally surround you!

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  10. Travel safe, bright spirit. Looking forward to sharing a bit of your travels as winter settles in here and my world gets a little colder and grayer. Boy, I'll be glad once we hit solstice and the days start getting longer again.

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  11. What a wonderful trip to look forward to. Hope you have a blast and let us know all about your adventure, and I'm sure it will be. Travel to distant lands are by far the best education one can ever get. They don't teach that stuff in school and you can't learn it from a book. Personl experience has no substitute.

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  12. I envy you a little for the sights you are going to get to see, but I'll be happy to hear what stories you would tell us when you get home.

    Jim

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  13. I tried to finagle a trip to London last year to see this on stage, but I'll have to settle for BBC2's Christmas Day broadcast.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6cCaYoDz-Y

    This kid isn't bad. And the old guy is pretty good too.

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  14. I'd love to visit Ireland some day. Don't think I could drive over there though. I'm pretty sure that the whole wrong side of the road thing would result a head-on the first time I got distracted looking at something interesting.

    A visit from Satan Claws would have been interesting :)

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  15. Ireland wow, I sure wish I was going with you. That country is so beautiful I hope you have a great trip.

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  16. I admit I'm a bit envious, Brigid. Have a wonderful and magical trip.

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  17. Enjoy the trip and the relaxation, and drink a good scotch for me!

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  18. I'm jealous. I'd like a similar trip with a side-excursion to Scotland and visit some distant relatives.

    Oh, well...

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  19. Your wonderful writing remind me of Proust; "the art of discovery lies not in finding new lands, but in seeing with new eyes".

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  20. Enjoy the trip to the land of half of my Ancestors, the green isle.

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  21. Enjoy the trip! Happy to buy you a coffee if work has me in London on a day you are there!

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  22. Oh and Febuary weather in these islands is a case of you get what you get, could be wet, could be snowing, but as you say you might get one of those magical winter days, blue skies, still air, bright sun, temperature well below freezing and the land covered in a heavy haw frost. Those days are rare but to me are best form of weather anywhere on the planet!

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I started this blog for family that lives far away. Now that they are gone, it continues on to share those memories.

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