Category Archives: travel
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“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
- MARK TWAIN
“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”
- JACK KEROUAC
Late nights at the theatre, followed by…
…early mornings on set…
…hangover cures, and…
…finding the funny everywhere.
Nonstop hustle. All for the love of the game.
I’m not sure why I was staring. Big, dumb, racist motherfuckers aren’t exactly rare in Texas. Especially in the nowhere parts. And they all look the same, like a sheet of construction paper that’s been folded and unfolded, India ink running all over, pooling into homemade skulls, vague biblical notions, and delightfully misspelled racial epithets. I’d seen these goofs up-close often enough. Our circles overlapped on occasion back in Houston. Rock shows, mostly. A menacing row of shaved heads, flak jackets, and ox-blood Doc Martens at the Social Distortion show. Even on their very best behavior (never) they made the one black guy I knew uncomfortable. Actually the one black guy I knew was a skinhead, too. S.H.A.R.P. – Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice. Yes, that was a real thing. Maybe still is? I’m not Googling it in case my computer is ever seized in a federal investigation.
Anyway. In one of the innumerable gas stations that light up I-35 between Austin and Dallas, I’m staring at this walking crevasse as he waits to pay for his Bud tallboy (Miller Lite is for Mexicans). And he’s staring, too. Not back at me, thankfully. But something had his attention and I didn’t need to ask because he let me know. He let the whole dozen or so of his fellow travelers know, “Whoa! That van is on fire!” It’s not often you get to use the word pandemonium in everyday conversation, so I need to take advantage. Pande-fucking-monium! At the absolute nearest gas pump is a white passenger van (propers to church youth groups everywhere), gas pump still in it, and flames are pouring out. No, flames are shooting out, like, even they don’t want to be around for the explosion that’s about to happen. And everyone in that gas station fast-forwards a hundred million years on the evolutionary timeline and teleports the fuck out of there. BAMF! Gone. Except one dumbass. You guessed it – Me. Skinhead is gone. My ride split so fast he left his wallet spinning, cartoon-style, on the counter. And there I stood, fogging up the window twelve feet away from a white, ten-passenger bomb. And the only thought running through my head was “Whoa that van is on fire!” A smart dumbass would have stuffed cans of Dr. Pepper down his pants on his way out the back door.
Profound moments of enlightenment are difficult to find and even more difficult to face. Kernels of truth can be tough to swallow, especially when my particular truth is – I am too fucking stupid to save my own life. Or worse, I’m just not that interested. It really shreds one’s hard-fought self-esteem to realize that in a disaster situation you’ll just…go with the flow.
“Yeah, it’s beautiful isn’t it?”
No one is leading, you’re all following the follower, serving the servant. You cannot win improv. And life is an improvisation. You have no idea what’s going to happen next and you are mostly just making things up as you go along. And like improv, you cannot win your life.
– Stephen Colbert
I have a hot temper fueled by a healthy dose of righteous indignation.
Recently, while navigating my wife and son through Midway airport, I took the time to get in a stranger’s face about how rude and overly aggressive they were being. And when they didn’t immediately back down (which, honestly, I expected they would) things got loud in a hurry.
While trekking through eerie Mirkwood forest, Bilbo Baggins and his dwarven companions, beset by exhaustion and hunger, strayed off the path chasing food and merry music despite repeated warnings to never do so. They didn’t find comfort, but instead spent weeks in an elven dungeon before they found their path again.
There will always be unexpected obstacles, setbacks and distractions on our journey. Why create more?
When I was a kid and I wanted to touch a dead armadillo (yes, more than once) my dad would yell, “You don’t need that!” That’s one thing. But getting in a stranger’s grill because I feel justified in doing so? Not on the agenda for the day. “You don’t need that!” So why bother?
“To hate is to show you still care. Who needs that? Focus on what’s really important.”
– Henry Rollins
I clearly have some baggage (the need to publicly correct an asshole) that distracted me from my mission (getting my boy to grandma’s house). What if airport security had gotten involved and we missed our flight? Grandma would be pissed! I’d rather spend a month in an Elven dungeon.
Pack your bags, sharpen your sword and STAY ON THE PATH!
If it’s not Mission Critical, don’t even bother. Seriously, leave that dead armadillo alone.
I’ve been obsessed, as of late, with light and efficient packing. I even follow a blog or two dedicated to the subject. Embarrassingly, I caught myself window shopping for an ultra-light, waterproof rucksack with a several hundred-dollar price tag attached. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?! Oh, yeah, here’s what: A lot of my travel is with my wife and son. Flying with a toddler requires many accoutrements; bag of toys, travel crib, car seat, etc. Many airlines are now charging between $25 and $100 to check bags, depending on the number and weight of your suitcases.
To keep costs down and save wear and tear on my rapidly aging back – I do a lot of editing as I pack. But that’s only for the outbound flight. I have to plan way ahead for the return flight, too, because once we get to grandma’s every cubic centimeter of empty suitcase space is filled with new toys, books, and clothes. Grandmas love grandbabies. Outlet malls love grandmas.
I take great pride in the fact that solo business trips now need only a backpack and noise-cancelling headphones. Light, fast, and free.
It was difficult for me to learn that to move on to a new place in my life, I had to leave crap behind.
Especially if I wanted to pick up souvenirs! For me to get from there to here required me to unpack my old self-image, prejudices, and long-held (and often just plain wrong) beliefs. Not everything stays behind. But it all gets taken out and examined. What will I really need? What will I hustle more easily without? Wherever you are headed, you’re going to need some room for all your awesome new experiences and ideas! TAKE ONLY WHAT YOU NEED.
If you had to make an emotional bug out kit to start all over, unknown, in a new and exciting place – what would you bring?
More importantly, what will you leave behind?