Friday, January 9, 2009

My wanderlust and its confines

So, I was talking my friend in Morocco yesterday morning (as my dad would say, INTERNATIONAL INTRIGUE!). I was also nursing Kiddokabiddo, who is highly unaccustomed to hearing me talk during said process (Ah, it is a lonely life we lead [referencing the nuns in Monty Python and the Holy Grail][why do I even think anyone would get that reference even if you could hear the inflection in my voice as I said it?]) and kept flipping her head up to look at me. Yes, Kiddokabiddo, I was talking to a computer. You're too young to even think that's weird. But IT'S STILL WEIRD TO ME!

When my family first moved across the country, I remember FANTASIZING about having a telephone with a TV screen in it so I could see and be seen by the person on the other end of the line. It was 1992, and that sort of technology seemed as remote as, well, the place we were moving (rural eastern North Carolina). My best friends and I wrote LETTERS! LETTERS! to each other, since long distance bills were so rowdy.

And now I can talk, for free, at will, to my friend in Morocco and my brother in South Korea, and I can see their faces while we do so.

IT IS A MARVELOUS NEW WORLD, MY FRIENDS!

My Moroccan Friend was telling me about how she plans to come back to the US for grad school when she's done over there (she's in Peace Corps), but is definitely considering leaving the North American continent again after she's got her degree. My brother's been leading me down the same path of rhetoric--he's planning on signing on for another year of teaching English in Seoul, and then considering grad school in Germany. With no plans to settle back down in the US any time soon.

Like all life plans that don't resemble my own, my immediate reaction was shame/fear (that I am horribly bourgeois and travel-xenophobic) and envy (that I should have experiences like these to add to my life repertoire)(And then shame over why I consider these "life repertoire" experiences when THEY CLEARLY MEAN MORE TO PEOPLE THAT A CHECK MARK IN THE "I DID THIS" BOX). As the day mellowed and I considered and rejected several versions of the next five years, I remembered why I haven't actually left the continent. (GASP! SHOCK!)

(1) I love the US. (Wave patriotic flags! No, wait, don't.) What I mean is: I love traveling in the US. I love the highways and the back roads and the fact that I don't have to fly over the ocean. (One of my greatest fears is a plane crashing into water. I'm not afraid of flying, and I'm not afraid of crashing: I'm afraid of drowning. Can you tell I'm a bad swimmer?)

(2) I am afraid of looking like a tourist. I genuinely abhor looking like a tourist and since I SPEAK ONE OTHER LANGUAGE (the one which is NOT SPOKEN ANYMORE, y'all--four years of LATIN), unless I go to an English-speaking country, it is inevitable that I will stick out as obviously as Marcus Brody from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, no matter what Indy tells the Nazis.

(3) Related to #1, I guess I feel like there are too many places on this continent that I want to make sure I see. MY BUCKET LIST AT 26! DON'T get me wrong--I have always, ALWAYS wanted to see Easter Island, Stonehenge, Machu Picchu (my budding archaeology dreams of most of my youth still linger with me)--but I guess I feel like, coming back to TECHNOLOGY, there are so many places I feel like I don't need to see in PERSON to feel fulfilled. I don't NEED to go to Paris, I don't NEED to go to London, I don't NEED to see vineyards in Italy. They're in, like, a million movies and books and webshots. I know, I know--there's a difference between EXPERIENCING and experiencing from your computer screen. I KNOW.

But I've got miles to go before I sleep, Robert Frost, and most of those miles are bent out across the barren stretches of America, Kiddokabiddo in the backseat, in jerks and spurts for the next cluster of years. And hopefully not in a mini-van.

1 comment:

Angela said...

ahhh, Latin. you would have thought it would come in handy at the Vatican. if each inscription had not been abbreviated beyond recognition, i would done much better than the occasional, "I can READ this!" moment