Thursday, March 18, 2010

Stationary Claire

Rottnest Island, tourist hellhole, except when you go on a weekday. Then it's still a tourist hellhole, but the beaches are emptier.

Not being actively traveling, but rather, settled down in a completely foreign country, is an interesting experience. I did some calculating the other day, and realized that except for my Big Trip when I was 19 (6 months traveling through Europe and Morocco) and 6 weeks in Australia in 2004, all of my trips have been only weeks long. As someone who views traveling as being, by its very nature, a longer-term endeavor, this makes me a big ol' fraud. All my pretentious "be free and vagabond around the world, drinking life to the lees and some other old-fashioned, high-faluting-sounding stuff that makes you think I'm smart" persona presentation (and alliteration) are actually based in very little fact.

I like to travel. I like to travel for long periods of time. I actually think that's the best way to travel. So why haven't I done that? Am I afraid of something (being lonely, getting lost, figuring out the money)?

What is there to be afraid of? Falling off a cliff while doing the YMCA dance.

And living somewhere is way different from traveling through there, although you can approximate living somewhere if you stay for three to four weeks. You can develop the favorite coffee shop where they recognize your order, the familiar stores where you buy familiar pants, the same place you leave your toothbrush every night.

The most important rhetorical question: what the hell is "Manchester"?

You can even approximate living somewhere with short bursts of long-term travel by developing lasting friendships, getting jobs and bank accounts, finding a romantic entanglement or some sort of lover. But then, when the month is over, you pick up and move on, and you have enough of a place's imprint to memorize a map of its city streets, but not enough to know where the best walk to take your dog is. You don't know what it smells like in fall, but you unpacked your bags and put the backpack in the closet for a while.

The top of this mailbox came off. They deliver mail there anyway.

Which one is better? I really don't know. Is it better to settle somewhere, or is just a taste of settling enough? Is it okay to confuse doing something with pretending to do something, and figure out the difference later? Or are you really conducting a mini-life in that month-long stay,with enough veracity behind it that you could really say you've lived there?

Is it more important to SAY you've lived somewhere than actually live there?

What's up there? Drop bears?

What's with all this freaking navel-gazing, anyway? I don't know, but it sure is pretentious. In order to make you forget about how omphaloskeptic I've been, why don't you go read about Lady Gaga instead?

2 comments:

B said...

Your friends and family love you no matter where you are. So travel when you choose to. Make your life what you want it to be.

Regarding the link: its a fun read. It seems unlikely that gaga is in any way feminist. Do you feel exploited? How about everybody else?

I call it marketing. g a g a == m a d o n a

Karen said...

It's all temporary and borrowed anyway, really, one's lifetime, and what I hear you describing sounds like pattern-making, in a way that makes me think of fractals (or would if I knew more about fractals), just patterns within patterns and all connecting and referring to each other. That sort of thing.