Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Traveling home

I often look at travel as a way out of my head, a chance to escape my own reality and be immersed elsewhere. I often look to be confused, get lost in the unfamiliar, not know the plan because there is no need for one. This time, though, I needed to travel to find a way back to myself.

I've been teaching for over two decades, and each spring, I find myself surprised at my exhaustion, at my desire to simply stare into the sky for hours, scanning for glimpses. Inspiration and motivation mere wisps. Each spring, towards the end of the semester, I swear I should video myself so I could replay it the following year--evidence that this occurs and passes. But that would take time. Effort. These fall away gradually until early May.

Escape. This time Italy. The nature I'd been missing, the breathing of expanse. Hills of Montepulciano held my stare, helped me remember to pause. Be present.

I stopped listing all the things that hadn't happened--the declines from submissions, trips canceled due to health issues. Instead, I chose grateful--publications, trips, friends, a good life.

When I stood, early morning, watching the sun rise over the canal in Venice, I breathed in summer, early morning rising into a day filled with time, the unknown, moments to capture as they emerge. A noticing.

And when I forget, get caught in the busyness of life, I have this, carried back from the streets of Lucca. Instead of a quick button push on my fancy coffee maker, I sip one cup at a time, carefully made, cleaned in between. I listen for the hum of the perk. Wait for the heat to cool a bit.

Sunday, January 1, 2017


I've been reading lots of end of 2016 Facebook posts, most with the sentiment of a big fuck you to the year. The election debacle spiraled me, and many friends, into a permanent discoloring of life. Everything read in the lens of impending doom. Despair. Fear. These held me, unsteady, throughout the fall into the shortened days.

Music tinged with loss. Bowie. Prince. Keith Emerson. A list that kept growing. The familiar and unfamiliar soundtracks of my youth, reminders, marked memories.

I needed a break. Not because the year felt like some big dismal castaway. I can trace good. Reorient and be grateful. But that doesn't diminish the ease with which I fell into bleakness. Panic.

Travel cures all, at least for me, and Nan. When we planned our annual holiday escape in June, we must have known that by December 18th, we would need little distraction, a nothingness that stills and erases. Presence could be found in Mexico, in Valladolid, on Isla Holbox.

Time erased for hours and hours. Disconnected from steady emails, mindless scrolling, information overloads. We ambled to breakfast around 9am each day--fresh fruit juices, eggs, beans, sauces. Walked back along the beach to our cute tiny place off the main stretch, a hidden small oasis, our private retreat. Time to linger on the beach, wade into bathtub temperature water, smell the sky, lose thoughts, be there.

I read out of 2016 and into 2017 journeying with Patti Smith's M Train. Words carry me back, always, if I sit long enough, and linger.