17 July 2011

Going and Returning We Never Leave Home

A long time ago I was spending a couple of months with a friend in Hamburg, Germany before heading off to Frankfurt for a year of study.  At the time, the favorable exchange rate coupled with my still-qualifying-for youth-fare age meant travel was rather inexpensive.  So I got the bright idea to head to Assisi on a pilgrimage, spending a few days on the cheap where Francis had hung out so many centuries before.

I boarded a train and traveled through a day and a night and the better part of another day before finding myself at the station on the plain below Assisi.  When I got off the train I realized in an instant that there was nothing there for me that I didn't already have, nothing I would discover that I didn't already know, nothing I could take away that could avail me in any way, shape or form.  So rather than make my way up the hill to the city to stay for a few days, I boarded the next northbound train, and I traveled through the night and a day and part of another night before arriving back where I had started from some 60 hours earlier.

Tomorrow I fly across the ocean for a week abroad.  I'm getting the trip for free, and I'm grateful for the generosity that is making it possible, but to tell the truth I wouldn't be at all upset if the trip got canceled right now.   It's not that it won't be nice to get a change of scenery, and it's not that it won't be nice to get away from the center for a little bit.  It's just that I have come to know, from the one side, that no matter what I pack or don't pack, this bundle of stuff I take to be "me" always goes along for the ride, and it doesn't really matter at which latitude and longitude it happens to find itself, since it can (and does) pull its shenanigans anywhere at any time.   From the other side, whether it's borscht or Boca, Nevsky Prospekt or Mt. Prospect, it's all just this.  Travel an inch, travel 2500 miles, it's still just this.

That said, I really like flying in airplanes.  At this time of year that far north there will be hardly any night for me for a week, and if that isn't cool enough, I'm going to be all too happy to let someone else monitor the rogue bamboo in the garden for 8 days.  Off I go!

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