I don’t mean to be a snob when I say this: I have not traveled frequently in the States. Not like I did when I was living in Italy. There it seemed like a crime to stay home when Rome was only two hours away, and the very ground you walked on likely hid treasures dating back millennia. It was so natural to NEED to be somewhere, to experience a new place, ways of life. Maybe it was the time limit. We knew we were only living there for three years. After that, a weekend trip to Paris would sound equal parts haughty and insane.
Now that I’m back in the US, and have been for quite some time, my meanderings are still inclined toward Europe, and other locales even more exotic. Foreign languages, strange currency and 15 hours on a plane are my prerequisites for a vacation, an adventure. Which is foolishness. Yellowstone, Yosemite as an adult, Arches, Bryce Canyon, New York City, Santa Fe, out of the way little towns that have their own story to tell, and the big legends. All places I have NEVER been.
The older I get and the more judgmental I become of myself, the more I realize like most things in life, finding joy and adventure in something has more to do with your attitude and less to do with where you are.
This picture is an example. No, it isn’t the best one I’ve ever taken, but I remember the moment cleanly. I had driven for hours to the poppy fields in Southern California. I was sick and a little cranky, and feeling crazy for doing this. Then I got out of the car, walked among the flowers, absorbed the place, its dust (not in a druggy sense), and the people visiting there. I had my film camera and tingled with the notion I was alive and experiencing something outside of my normal routine. On my way back home, I saw this sign again. I adored the first time I passed it, and still did. Kitschy Americana. I almost didn’t stop, then chastised my self and swerved off the road.
I might not ever be here again, and there is no moment beyond now. We have to be open to experience, and we have to be willing to meet things, at the very least, halfway. Yeah, the picture isn’t great, but I’m happy I stopped. I’m happy I took that moment, and followed my heart.