You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘journey’ tag.

It is turning colder here. My house spirits are enjoying their newly learned trick of playing with the thermostat. Mr. Man is about the warmest thing around, when MKL isn’t here. So I turn back to the Out Islands, which seem like months, rather than weeks ago. My mild case of breakbone fever, combined with the change of seasons, means my joints are painful and I am already dreaming of our next trip to someplace where there is sand between our toes and sunsets into the sea.

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Great Exuma, Bahamas.

Quote of the day: “A journey, after all, neither begins in the instant we set out, nor ends when we have reached our door step once again. It starts much earlier and is really never over, because the film of memory continues running on inside of us long after we have come to a physical standstill. Indeed, there exists something like a contagion of travel, and the disease is essentially incurable.”  — Ryszard Kapuscinski

Daily gratitudes:
Morning fog
Days that warm up to sunshine
A full tank of gas
That the Red Sox are winning
Plans and dreams

We had to turn around to go back to take a picture of this sign. MKL didn’t believe me when I told him what I had seen. I guess that’s common with UFOs.

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At an intersection of two roads in northern New Mexico.

Quote of the day: “Keep calm and don’t forget the whipped cream” — Quinn Loftis

Daily gratitudes:
The gorgeous green in our lovely State right now
A surprise drop-in by Kelsea
That my cooking is improving
Iced green tea especially on hot days
Josh the Barista

Please say a prayer tonight for young Dylan Redwine, missing since November, whose body was found by searchers this week. May his soul fly free.

Trains have played a significant role in my life, my lineage, and in MKL’s as well.  We’re off on a journey tomorrow (not by rail but by road, which we both love), so this view down the tracks felt a bit fitting.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Quote of the Day: “It’s just that…I just think that some things are meant to be broken. Imperfect. Chaotic. It’s the universe’s way of providing contrast, you know? There have to be a few holes in the road. It’s how life is.” —  Sarah Dessen

Daily gratitudes:
Working from home with my little pumpkin
Tapestry shawls
Masses of pillows
Things to look forward to
Smiles

Our time here at Topsail is halfway up, and we’ll be facing the interesting drive back to Colorado.  Our planned route will take us through Atlanta, Memphis, Oklahoma City, and along old Route 66 to Santa Fe, then up through Taos to Colorado.  It’s still a little too early to think real hard about that, but not so early that I can’t pull out Daniel and the Atlas, and make a few hotel reservations.  Perhaps tonight.

Yesterday was off-again on-again stormy and I was under the weather with a sore throat, malaise, and bad-monkey stomach.  Better this morning, but I took TWO naps yesterday, which is huge – anyone who knows me knows I don’t nap, except under very specific circumstances.

This morning, the air has the haze that spells heat, and the sea is sparkling in the early sun.  A cup of tea on the porch as I listen to the waves sounds like a fine idea.  My girl is still sleeping and likely will continue to do so for another hour.  Then, a trip to the Post Office and who knows what else?

It is good to be here, which I now think of as my last childhood home, since the other is no longer available to me.  I feel like I haven’t slept in years, and like I could sleep forever.  I suspect there is some healing taking place, as I have no reason to be so exhausted.  It may just be years of built-up shit, burning itself off in the sun, so I can get back to the true me and get on with things.

I do miss my Mother this morning though.

As we know, according to my Mother, I was born asking where the next bus was.  I’ve never been content in this incarnation, this body, much less in being settled in one place.  In my head, I’ve been planning my journey around the world for years.  I’ve been longing for a life on a tropical island since I was eight years old.

My Mother’s mother went from home to home in the South and Midwest with my grandfather, who would buy land, build a house, live in it, teach school, farm, then sell the place, buy land somewhere, build a house, live in it…you get the picture.  I suppose my grandmother was content with this lifestyle – I never thought to ask.   But I know that at some point, late in her life, she had some kind of epiphany, which resulted in my Mother receiving a letter that started with, “By the time you read this, I will be in Yugoslavia.”  I think she had the wanderlust in her as well.  I have two mental images of my grandmother – one is of her sitting in a chair in The Barn, the last house my grandfather remodeled.  She’s wearing a plaid shirt, her glasses, looking away, looking peaceful.  The other is of her in a trenchcoat, her head covered by a white scarf, walking on a hill at the Acropolis.  Such a contrast, both so lovely.  Both so her.

My Mother was very like my grandmother – practical, peaceful.  On one of our last days together, we talked about the wanderlust thread that runs through the women in our family.  She had it too, always happy moving from house to house, always wanting to go to Europe, to see the Grand Canyon.  Her burning desire for most of her life was to go to India.  She never told me about that until that conversation.  My father was never happier than when at home, and so her dreams of journeying were thwarted.  She never resented it.  But after he died – in fact, while we were still in the room following his memorial service, she turned to her friend Jane and started discussing going on a Caribbean cruise.  (She felt a little bad about that, but she had no reason to.)

She did go on her Caribbean cruise that Fall, and I met her in Tortola and took her and her best friend around the island.  It was wonderful for all of us.  But she never got to see the Grand Canyon.  I suppose now she’s able to see it all, and that’s a nice thought.

Then there’s me.  Always planning, sometimes going.  I am learning that having the right place to call home is a good complement to traveling.  It changes the wandering from an escape, a search for something, to pure adventure and peaceful exploration.

Kelsea daily says to me, “You know what I want?  I want to go to Ireland.”  She fell in love with Ireland, even moreso than she loves Wales, when she went to Europe last summer.  I told her that I never even got on a plane until I was 14, and here she’s been to Europe twice.  She can now say, in an annoyingly blase manner, “I didn’t care for Paris.  I much preferred London.”  To which I snarl, “I’ve never SEEN Paris.” 

She says this is all my fault.  I’m the one who put travel posters (one, ironically, of the Eiffel Tower) on the walls of her nursery.  I’m the one who showed her pictures of exotic places around the world from the time she could sit in my lap.  I’m the one who sent her to Europe to experience other cultures.  And all of that is true.  But it’s not my fault.

It’s something in our bloodline, something that runs through the women just like the shine does, a spark that makes us want to see the world, while having a true home to which to return.  A longing  for a life that is a perpetual Grand Tour.  A desire to meditate with Buddhist monks in Tibet, to beachcomb on deserted islands off the coast of Brazil, to watch breaching whales in Alaska’s waters, and swim with seals in the Galapagos.  To see lava creep down a Caribbean volcano in Montserrat, the moonlight on the Taj Mahal, and the sun shine through the ceiling of the Pantheon.  To climb the hills of Bray, and count each sheep in Wales.

Homer said, “There is nothing worse for mortals than a wandering life.”  I heartily disagree.  My thinking is more in line with Robert Louis Stevenson’s: “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.  I travel for travel’s sake.  The great affair is to move.”  (Stevenson died and is buried on an island in the South Pacific.)

In my eyes, our women’s wanderlust is a true blessing.  My mother and my grandmother are smiling.

Coffee cups seem to have a curious aura about them for some people.  I am one of those people.  Are you?

As I was cleaning out some stuff from my former house last week, I found a particular box that contained things that I have kept with me since I left home at 18.  I’d been wondering, in idle moments, where they were.  The box holds things that I used to display on a small wooden shelf – where the shelf went, I have no idea.  Among the contents are numerous dried roses from forgotten special moments, a small empty bottle of Moet and Chandon from a perfect date in Boston, a can of Florida sunshine given to me by a boy I dated over Christmas break the year before I came to Colorado, a small oval still-life that my Mother bought me at an art show at Northgate Mall back when it was still a strip mall, a wooden vase my high-school chemistry teacher made for me, because he was fond of me and he said I tried the hardest and did the worst of any student he’d ever had, and a rust-colored pedestal pottery coffee mug that I stole from the first restaurant in which I worked.

I never particularly liked the mug, but it was one of two that I liked to have coffee from when I worked there.  I can’t recall the other one – I just know that there were two.  When it was time to leave the restaurant for the first time, when I moved to Boston, I wanted a reminder of my time there, so the mug joined me on my journey.  I didn’t use it much in freshman year, since I didn’t have access to coffee in my room, but it was with me like a talisman, reminding me of the place and time that I cast off the unfortunate bonds of my rather snooty school and came into my own.  It did see its fair share of coffee – and mold – in sophomore year, when I had my own little coffee pot.

I drank more coffee that first semester in college than I ever had before or ever have since.  By the time I came home for Christmas break, I was drinking three giant styrofoam cups full before 9:00 a.m.  So over Christmas, I went cold turkey. It was awful – I had horrible withdrawal headaches, and was about as bitchy as my parents had ever seen me, which is saying something.  I hope I apologized to them about that before they died.  I think I did.

Over the years, I had favorite coffee cups. There were two, one blue and one green, that I bought from a man curiously selling pottery in the middle of the woods by the Eno River.  A large brown one was purloined as a memento from the first catering company I worked for.  I took it to my last big company, and brought it into my very first meeting.  One of the women in the room said, immediately and loudly, “That is the biggest coffee cup I have EVER seen!”  I wasn’t sure if I should be pleased or embarrassed – you know how nervous you can be on your first day. And to me, it was a pretty normal mug – it’s not as if it were the size of my (albeit small) head.

Some people at work had their own mugs that they kept at their desk, but others would just take whatever mug came to hand in the communal kitchens.  I have always cared what mug I was drinking from – the size matters, the shape matters, the color matters, the design matters – it serves to enhance or detract from the coffee experience (or the tea experience, which is a different story, to be covered in a different essay.)   A mug that was appropriate for one morning’s cup will not necessarily be the right mug for the next day – or even for the afternoon.  Based on the casual consumption of coffee from random containers, I suspect this is not a feeling that everyone shares.  What essence does the character of a mug impart to the coffee, or to the experience?

I’ve always liked coffee cups with saucers.  I borrowed one from my favorite spot on Anegada some years back.  Last year, the cup fell from my wet fingers to shatter on my countertop.  I was devastated, but the need to replace it gives me a good excuse to go back.

The Captain and I liberated a cup and saucer from a special restaurant in San Francisco.  We shared them long distance, trading off who had them.  He was going to make a special travelling box for them, but he died before he could get to it.  I suspect they went off to some thrift store someplace with the rest of his things – no one else knew their significance.

I rescued an old mug from a little hotel on Jost van Dyke.  I felt as if it were my duty to do so before someone else did, as the place had been taken over by new owners and the special mugs were going to be replaced by something generic.

My father had his favorite coffee mugs – kind of oatmeal colored pottery with a wide handle.  He had two of them.  I don’t think I ever asked him where he got them, but he had his coffee from them every morning.  E-Bro took at least one of them home with him after our Mother died.  I was very pleased that he wanted them.  So I suspect that my Dad had the same sensitivity to drinking vessels as I do.

I’ve always had an affinity for the old-fashioned standard thick, white, chunky coffee mugs used at greasy spoon diners like the Busy Bee Restaurant in Brookline, Massachusetts.  I guess that’s consistent with my affinity for the 1940’s era, which is when the Busy Bee most likely opened.

When I moved out of Pat’s house, it felt like I was evacuating before a fire or flood.  I didn’t really pack.  I just took things more or less at random in a state of semi-shock.  I left behind several mugs that had meaning to me, and many that didn’t.  I have very little room in the cottage, and don’t need a lot of things – or a lot of mugs.  In fact, I don’t often drink coffee these days – tea sometimes, but usually at coffee shops where I like to work.  Even then, the mug is important – none of those crappy paper to-go cups for me.

As life goes on, I will surely accumulate more mugs, and not always by stealth.  And each will, most certainly, hold not only copious amounts of coffee (or tea or tequila), but some unique sense of place, space and time that speaks to me with every sip.

I’m looking forward to those sips.

The largest settlement on the Caribbean island of Saba is called The Bottom.  Saba offers one of the most terrifying and dangerous take-off and landing experiences of any airport in the world.  Another of the island’s main settlements is called Hell’s Gate.  And to top it all off, there is one road on the island, aptly named “The Road.”

 

I love the Caribbean.  It has called to me in shimmering whispers since I was 8 years old.  My first, once-in-a-lifetime trip did not occur until I was 42.  On that trip, I found the “me” that had been missing for many, many years.  And once-in-a-lifetime turned into as-often-as-possible.

 

As I’ve been thinking about my life, all these changes and new beginnings, these islands (or other islands) play a huge role in the vision I’m putting out into the universe.

 

Saba is a place I’ve always wanted to visit.  The people are lovely.  It is untouristed, because it’s hard to reach and has no wonderful beaches, casinos, or resorts.  It does have great hiking, superb diving, ladies at the community center who make lace by hand, and an air of being frozen in a comfortable time.  And it has a medical school, which feels kind of out of place, but there it is.

 

I know just where I’d stay and just what I want to see.  I’d take a million pictures during the day and lay in a hammock on the edge of the Elfin Forest (yes, that’s what it’s called) and look at a million stars at night.

 

I just haven’t been able to get there yet.

 

I realized this morning that perhaps I need to appreciate the island’s irony before I am ‘invited’ to visit, which leads back to my opening paragraph.

 

The flight to somewhere new, somewhere you have never been, is often scary.  No, not just scary – terrifying.  And yes, sometimes, downright dangerous.  But 9.7 times out of 10, you land on your wheels, sweaty, your heart pounding so hard you can see your shirt move, but you’ve landed.  You did not plunge to your death off the cliff into the sea.

 

That new place is daunting, unfamiliar.  But you’re there.  Explore it.  Or stay on the plane, which is now going nowhere for a short while, but will be going back to where you came from, making that heart-in-mouth journey pointless, and making you a total chicken. Your choice.

 

Get on The Road.  It will take you past Hell’s Gate.  It can take you to The Bottom.  But from The Bottom, The Road climbs back up to vistas of the sea, and the indulgences of lush, tropical, natural beauty, making the arduous trip worth everything it may have cost you, in money and in spirit.  Your soul will be richer for the journey.

 

The Captain used to call me his “Queen of the Caribbean.”  They call Saba the “Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean.”  While I am, by no measure, unsullied, I believe this island and I will relate quite well to one another when the time comes.

In my heart, I know I am preparing for a journey, though whether it is physical, emotional, spiritual, or all of the above, I do not yet know.  So, back to Wikiquotes to try to stimulate some sense of place within the concept of the journey.

“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” ~ Lao Tzu

“Anything we fully do is an alone journey.” ~ Natalie Goldberg

“Go forth on your path, as it exists only through your walking.” ~ Saint Augustine (354-430)

“He who strays discovers new paths.” ~ Nils Kjær

“It’s only when we realize that life is taking us nowhere that it begins to have meaning.” ~ P. D. Ouspensky

“Look at the stars lighting up the sky: no one of them stays in the same place.” ~ Seneca (4 BC – 65 AD)

“The only way out is through.” ~ Geneen Roth

“The torch of doubt and chaos, this is what the sages steer by.” Chuang-Tzu

“Traveling is like flirting with life.” ~ Advertisement

“In the meadows of the mind no-one travels so far as he who knows not where he is going” – Oliver Cromwell

“When we get out of the glass bottles of our ego,
and when we escape like squirrels from turning in the cages of our personality
and get into the forest again,
we shall shiver with cold and fright
but things will happen to us
so that we don’t know ourselves.

Cool, unlying life will rush in,…” ~ D.H. Lawrence, Escape

“Embrace the detours.” ~ Kevin Charbonneau

“A traveller. I love his title. A traveller is to be reverenced as such. His profession is the best symbol of our life. Going from – toward; it is the history of every one of us. It is a great art to saunter.” -Henry David Thoreau

“A ship in a harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” William Shedd

“The longest journey is the journey inwards.” Dag Hammarskjold. Markings, 1964

“What is a journey? A journey is not a trip. It’s not a vacation. It’s a process. A discovery. It’s a process of self-discovery. A journey brings us face to face with ourselves. A journey shows us not only the world, but how we fit in it. Does the person create the journey or does the journey create the person? The journey is life itself. Where will life take you?” – LV commercial

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