My love affair with travel began pretty early on. As a five year old traveling between my mother (who married an Air Force captain) and my dad (who stayed in sunny California, where I was born), I navigated airports and traveled treacherous Canadian roads to get to the nearest airport that offered non-stop flights to Sacramento. I saw it all as an adventure, for the most part, and reveled in the one on one attention that comes from a 6 hour road trip with one's parent.
I was little. And annoying. And I got to travel by myself. Which meant I got Necco wafers, pressed the "call" button whenever I had to go to the restroom and was often moved to empty rows when I wanted a place to stretch out and sleep. Stewardesses (which is what they were CALLED then) were sweet to me and pilots let me hang out up front and I got the sic little golden wings that they handed out like candy back in the day.
There was for sure a downside. I had to learn on my own how to unplug my ears, watch my mom cry as she watched me walk down the jetway, carry all my own little bags, deal with smoky planes (yes I am THAT old) and then watch my dad cry as he watched me leave when it was time to head home.
But travel never lost its luster for me. Even when it was a tiny little trip to a mundane (to some) location like Grand Forks, ND; Branson, Missouri; or Laguna Beach, CA, I've always been eager to see what new landscapes, promises and challenges lived just around the corner from me. I savored each travel story and told it to my sisters waiting back home, showing off my mixed tapes from the ultra-cool California.
In every place I lived or traveled, I had friends and/or family who knew and loved me (or at least I believed they did). I've slept on couches, pull-out beds, dirt floors, lofts and one time in an effort to calm a very upset Albanian baby, in a crib. I've eaten just about everything you can imagine and yes, I drank the water in Mexico but managed to get food poisoning in New York.
"I made it through the Louvre in an hour at a dead run." Grace Adler, Will and Grace
I love art. I pored over my mother's books on Michelangelo's Pieta from Rome. I sleep with a Moses Soyer book next to my bed and I've shamelessly ripped prints from a Matisse book just so I could hang them in my bathroom. But take me to a museum and I will lose it. Just as light cannot exist without the darkness, I have trouble seeing art juxtaposed with....other art. So I take it where I can get it, find beauty where others might overlook it, in the gentle curve of a salesgirl's charming overbite as she bilks me out of my Euros for a cheap scarf. In the forked tail of a swallow (which did you know makes the male swallow MUCH more attractive than his counterpart, the deeper the fork....well you get my drift) as he flies by my hotel window.
Languages entrance me, particularly the romance ones. I took latin in high school and spanish in college but the best I can must now is figuring out the roots of words to help my kids with their homework and also asking "Where are my pants?" in Spanish. I wish I had a better ear for languages but I don't. My husband however, is a language genius and for a brief shining moment, we were planning on living in Germany.
I can hear the snide remarks now. So, you love art but don't want to look at it. You adore languages but can't speak any fluently? Oh sure Maren, you're a world traveler for SURE.
Well, I can't help my nature. See for me traveling has always been more about the experience than the um, knowledge. Actually, you might even sum up my whole life that way.
For instance, I'll never forget running through Paris underground with a Spaniard, a Frenchman and Kim Mance, who knew a little French (we've already discussed my particular linguistic talents) and having an international game of telephone that was, in a word hilarious. Incidentally, we talked a Hotel DeVille official into letting us use the ice skating rink after it was closed. I may not know much French but getting on your knees in front of an amused Parisian policeman transcends mere words.
To be continued...