“We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”
February 27, 2014. 217 days until approximate start of trip.
The title “Travels with Charley” with a truck and field Google Doodle led me to a Kindle sample.
When I was fifteen and the passion of Aussie fans roared in the Olympic stadium, I felt the power of belonging with a culture and with the world. The sight of the Sydney Opera House three years ago felt surreal and disconnected and had remained so. Four years of high school French filled me with many fantasies of normal daily life in Paris, yet four years of high school French (plus a quarter in college and several attempts on Rosetta Stone and Duolingo) pale in comparison to the most basic and passable utterances (and any useable courage) I would need to order from a restaurant or ask for directions or complete a standard store transaction. After graduating from college, I wrote down a goal: to make the best of my 20s, on the advice of the general older population. Even with the skydiving, the flash mobbing, the Amtraking from coast to coast, I still need to live.
When the layoff scare shook me to a panic for a life’s moment, like after a small earthquake I realized I should have been more prepared. Weeks later when a friend was actually laid off from his job, I was confidently ready with an answer to an unasked question. In a way that question was for me, and I would only answer it the way I know how.
My spreadsheet of goals have spun off to a separate doc of multiple sheets of itineraries and checklists and could’ves and should’ves. I know for a fact that I will have a better time when I’m over-prepared than when I’m under-prepared. But I also know for a fact that I will have a better time when I am pleasantly surprised than when I get what I expect. The premise of the Serenity Prayer helps me here, and I need to find a balance so that “the trip takes me.” (I may have something that will do the job; I’ll have to find out.)
My plan may be vague, jumbled, and naive, for now. It may even be that way in retrospect. But with more and more images and stories of places around the world surfacing digitally, there is very little that is yet to be seen, explored, and claimed to be truly unique. I am attempting to play catch-up with the world and with myself.
(Steinbeck’s currently introducing Charley.)