Shortly–i.e., any minute now–I’ll be heading out on a brief road trip with friends. I’m not a “full-time traveler,” like some sporty young people these days, flinging themselves across the globe to taste turgid well water from Tibetan monasteries buried in snow and silence. No, but perhaps I’m a part time traveler.
Seneca, a Stoic I mentioned in my last post, said, “To be everywhere is to be nowhere. People who spend their whole lives traveling abroad end up having plenty of places where they can find hospitality but no real friendships.”
Maybe I haven’t traveled enough, but I disagree with Seneca.
I’ve traveled alone, as when I flew to England, and the sight of travelers spilled like marbles into bus terminals and airports has troubled me. I’m lost in their anonymity. The way they feel like ghosts. And the gray impersonal walls of the terminals feel alien, smeared with the presence of people passing by but never staying.
The road, at times, has a has a lonesome murmur.
But I’ve also joined the fabric of another world, building friendships and leaving traces with the footfalls and echoes of existence we all leave behind. I know one English girl has a poem I wrote while watching boats drift down the Thames. Unless she threw it out.
But I often wonder if the people I meet–like a man named Walid who worked in a cafe at Cairo–remembers my fumbling Arabic and the daily exchanges we made over the counter.
“Brett!” he’d say, smiling.
*Insert messy attempt at Arabic
“How’s your family?” I’d ask.
I have a collection of cards gleaned from my travels: contacts that I haven’t contacted, businesses, monasteries. They’re reminders, but they fill me with joy.
…Well, my friends just arrived. Who knows where the road leads. Cheers for now.