Excitement Building, Work Never Ending

October 17th, 2019

I am so used to these short interims between cruises since I began Living Travelly, that I quickly fall into a routine that works something like this.

First few days: recover from jet lag and stagger through setting up appointments and contacting friends for lunch, tennis, etc.

Remainder of first week:  deny how much work I have to do, but find myself pulled toward my computer anyway.

Second and third weeks: work compulsively, broken up by going to all the appointments, lunches, and tennis I have set up.

These days, that’s about all the time I have.

Right now now I am in the second week, working like a dog to be ready to leave for Dubai early in November. From there I will float across the Indian Ocean and eventually arrive in Singapore, then on to Sydney for holiday assignments on Silver Muse.

Today, I am feeling the weight of it all. I’m  not quite to the point where leaving again feels all that positive. Too much to do, and even the fun I usually have thinking about what to take hasn’t kicked in yet.

It will, though.  As I review my lectures, I fall in love again with my topics, and can’t wait to share.  I think about how much I prefer the sound of waves to traffic outside my window, and how great it is to have every new day dawn with the promise of something out of the ordinary.

Just writing this is all I have to do to feel the first frissons of excitement.  Hello, wonderful world out there!  I’ll see you soon!

 

 

 

 

Unwelcome

October 10th, 2019

I arrived back in the United States day before yesterday, after a cruise that took me from Lisbon to Greenwich, then across the Atlantic to Newfoundland and down the eastern seaboard to New York, where I will disembark tomorrow.

After decades of travel, I can’t count the number  of times I have come back into the United States from abroad.  Until recently, I have always felt a strong sense of belonging when I would see airport signs saying “Welcome to the United States of America.” I would grin from the inside out at being home.

Not any more.  There is no sense of welcome, no sense of home. 

I feel ashamed  and disconsolate at what my country has been reduced to, and so deeply, deeply betrayed that when I approached the immigration agent, I could not even offer a polite smile. I feel knocked to the ground by unutterable sadness, at the same time almost airborne with anger,  as I reencounter a country that for all its flaws,  I used to feel proud to be part of, a country that undeniably has worked well for me.  

Yesterday, I accompanied a group making a quick tour of historic Boston’s main sites.  A couple of times I had to turn away and will myself not to tear up at the reminders of American patriots who were willing to pledge their  “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” to create a nation I owe so much to.

I am too much of a skeptic, and have read too many alternative histories of the United States, to go overboard glorifying any of them, but yesterday in Boston the country I want to believe in was on full display, while the papers are full of stories about the president refusing to cooperate at all with a constitutional process that is at the heart of our democracy—the right to hold our leaders accountable to us.  Stories about abandoning Kurds to die, probably because  there’s something for the president to gain personally out of a conversation with a foreign leader. Stories of quid pro quo’s for venal ends on matters that affect my country’s safety and standing in the world. Yesterday  was a time for tears. Every day is a time for rage.

This afternoon I will arrive in New York Harbor.  I am honored to be asked by the captain to be on the bridge to provide commentary as we sail in, so I will have a view of the Statue of Liberty few civilians get to see.  If Boston was emotionally hard, I suspect this will be harder. I think of the children with their shiny blankets on floors in detention camps. I think of exhausted people hoping only that their fears for their lives will warrant asylum in an America whose president, when told they couldn’t simply be shot down if they tried to cross illegally, wondered aloud if perhaps non-fatal bullets in the legs might be a sufficient deterrent.

One time years ago, when I was walking in Battery Park and feeling the  beautiful benediction  of the statue in the harbor,  I felt such a rush of emotion that I called the people I love most, just to share being there with them.  It felt like such a blessing that day to be right where I was, part of this country. The loss cannot be measured, but perhaps our wholeness can be restored  I don’t know. I don’t see how.

I picture the beautiful woman in New York Harbor, saying the America she represents is a land of tired and poor who came and made good.  Perhaps the statue we now deserve has her aiming a gun down the Narrows, or pointing to a sign quoting the president, “Sorry, We’re Full.” Or perhaps she would have uprooted these gigantic feet and gone to stand in reproach on our southern border. I am certain at the very least her face would be stained with tears. I suspect mine will be too when I greet her..  

Yearning

October 6th, 2019

I am listening to a novel in which the narrator, a mother of preteens, is at a a party where, for the first time in years, she gets stoned.  She tunes in to the conversation the other stoned mothers are having around her, and is bewildered that the conversation doesn’t seem to have changed.  They are still talking about their children, and their teachers, and the ups and downs of their lessons, sports, and other activities. She is feeling disaffected  and dissatisfied with her life, and wonders, “where is the yearning?” 

No one ever talks about that.  It’s as if we all hide behind superficial conversation and call that friendship, when in fact we almost never reveal what we really think, the things that are too scary to talk about, the things that, once spoken of, would require actions we don’t want to admit we need to take.

Looking back on my own life, I see now that when my toxic first marriage was taking such a toll on me that there were times I though just driving my car at high speed off the road would solve my problems, I never said one word to women I considered my best friends. I look back on those times and I don’t even recognize the person I was, and the cowardice of my lack of ability to be honest with myself, or to hint of my reality to others.

We are so good at hiding. If we should start an sentence with anything as daring as “I yearn for…,” would it dissolve into something hip, or shallow, or silly, like wanting a fabulous massage, or our all-time favorite cocktail or glass of wine? No wonder we feel adrift. We don’t even have the words for what we want, because we have dumbed down our vocabulary for feelings, or maybe we never really had more than a few words to speak for the gamut of our emotions to begin with.

Since this is my blog, I wish I could say, “Look at me!  See how I have worked through this and I have this sage advice to offer.”  Well, I don’t.  I think only that I need to be able to complete a sentence that starts with “I yearn for,” and once I can complete it privately,  to say it out loud to others and, in doing that, make a commitment to turning it into reality, whatever I am brave enough to determine  that is.

This is a form of living traveling too.