Here and Gone

I fell in love with traveling as a teenager, long before the rise of social media, smartphones, and internet cafes. Getting on a plane meant going incommunicado; going to another country for a week or two meant no one knew for sure you were still alive till you came home; and going away for a month or two meant letters home written in words carefully selected to convey the exquisite otherness of a place the reader might never see.  From the beginning, I savored the vanishing–the fact that no one from home could possibly know I was on an impromptu backpacking trip in the Alps, or watching the moon rise outside a seaside hut in Cape Cod, or getting swept up in a spontaneous late-night party in the streets of Buenos Aires as the country celebrated a World Cup victory. Nowadays, I admit, I probably would have shared many such experiences immediately on Facebook, or via text or email. In that sense, I’m nowhere near as good at disappearing as I used to be.

Having officially entered midlife, I am also daily more aware of another disappearing process that has nothing to do with skill or intentionality. I am (have always been) in the process of disappearing from this world. Every year I leave people, places, and things behind that become part of my past. They recede from my view, as I recede from theirs. As always the present exists in abundance, but there is a lot less future than there once was.

I started thinking about creating a blog, and challenged myself to be able to say why I wanted one. Some people (especially my mom!) have told me I should write more, and I do enjoy writing. Words (more so than fully-formed thoughts) often roil about in my mind jockeying to configure themselves, and the writing process helps me name the feelings and formulate the ideas that percolate like completely nonsensical Beat poetry in my head. I also like the idea of using this blog as a travel journal (very broadly defined). There’s another simple reason I think many of us blog (or Facebook/Twitter/Instagram): we want to be seen. We want the world to know we exist, even as (or because) we are aware of the ephemeral nature of that existence. So sure, let’s call this a travel journal. But I do hope people will read it (maybe even share their own thoughts and adventures), and watch me–while I disappear.

 

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