Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Move Toward Sameness

For the first time in this blog, I am writing from a location other than my home in New York. I am in Portland, Maine, with my good friend, Dan, who will be guest-blogging within the next week. After driving 8 hours from New York, we arrived here very late - around 1:30am. We got up this morning, had some breakfast and headed out to downtown Portland to do some sight-seeing.

While there were quaint little shops, and some one-of-a-kind hand-made items here and there, Maine really had not struck us any different than New Jersey. It is so similar in fact that when we pulled into the Sunoco Station to get gas this morning. I hesitated for a split second before recognizing that I needed to get out of the car and pump my own gas. (In New Jersey, it is illegal to pump your own gas - an attendant always does it for you.)

In my mind this begs the question, "why travel?" Granted both New Jersey and Maine are in the Northeast, though you would imagine that 8 hours apart cultures would vary to some extent. This lack of change gave me pause; maybe travel isn't worth it unless we are traveling internationally, or into nature to place such as Yosemite or the Grand Canyon.

There are many good reasons to travel with a companion; though I would say that in the past I have been much more successful traveling alone than with company. However, that has much more to do with the fact that I am truly lousy at picking travel partners. Dan, is a great exception. He's the perfect travel buddy - played DJ the entire trip, is a good conversationalist, is unfailingly optimistic, and tells me to knock it off in a very kind way when I lapse into my neuroses. As we were taking a rest back in the hotel before dinner, Dan reclined on his bed and said "the great thing about traveling is that it gives you permission to completely slack off." I would never have realized this on my own. I am by nature a manic traveler - I must see everything, do everything, try everything, or else I feel I've wasted my money. In on sentence, Dan gave me some food for thought.

I don't take time to slow down when I'm at home. If I did, I'd miss out. I write in my blog while I read a magazine, eat dinner, watch the news, and create yet another to-do list. It's maddening, and it's my fault that it's maddening. There is much to be said for slowing down, serial tasking rather than multi-tasking, and then choosing to not task at all for a bit. Travel, regardless of where we go, lets us step away from our lives and our responsibilities and just be in the world. It's a different lens through which to view living, even if that living looks similar to life at home.

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