The last advice I’ve been given is the darkest, and has made me most defensive in my distress-tinged sensitivity. I simply shouldn’t travel as much. It’s not said that way, but there’s the nudge. I’m doing too much. “You’ve been running all over the place,” one girlfriend told me. Maye she’s confusing me with someone who has a full-time job with full-time responsibilities; a person with a husband and kids at home who need looking after. In reality, it’s been a year since my trip to Cuba, and subsequent destinations. If you don’t have a passport then yes, this seems excessive. If you don’t see the point of travel, have only worked 9 to 5 office jobs, or have mortgages and college tuition to consider, then I get it. If you’d rather have a pimped-out media room then yes, I suppose my getting around might seem reckless.
The only reckless thing I’ve done is waited decades for it to be okay for me to live my way. Amsterdam should have happened in 1999, but I let fear of judgment–and travel of friends to more “approved” locales like Jamaica, Mexico, and Brazil–affect and limit me.* Colorado has been on my radar for about eight years. Portland, at least five. Cuba, a smooth 15. I find spur-of-the-moment trips without a ton of planning perfect, because I don’t need much.
I’m also tending to an elaborate mental checklist as I travel: Is there public transportation and if not, how does that impact lower-income citizens who can’t or don’t drive? How do they treat people of color–are they in positions other than wait staff or cleanup? Do people have pride in their town? How do they care for their homeless and hungry? There’s much to be gained from a local paper like Portland’s Willamette Week: is it bulging with activities, or meh on its artists?
I’m at my best when I’m able to document, photograph, and experience the world outside the City of (Someone’s) Dreams. I want to see more in 45’s America: how regions have transformed post-election, or not at all, and why. There’s a wacky fallacy that living in a big city sates you entirely, that having everything at your fingertips dulls your need to seek out unfamiliar experiences. I was raised to trumpet that everything is better in New York. I’ve learned this is not true.