Sunday, February 07, 2010

Home and Elsewheres

This morning I have travel on the brain. It's been awhile since my passport got stamped, an oversight that needs to be corrected and soon. I love getting out of the US and seeing what the rest of the world is like. Considering the ease with which a US citizen can cross most any border, it's criminal not to take advantage.

There are places to which I'd love to return, and there are cities and locations I'm dying to see for the first time. The Great Pyramid at Giza has been on the list for many years, and I've kicked myself many a time for not simply packing my valise and going. After all, that's how it happened with most places I've gone to.

Right out of college I got it into my head to uproot and leave the US behind in a fit of pique. My burgeoning political consciousness, such as it was, fed into adolescent dreams of running away from home and I got the heck out. First stop was Amsterdam, fun town, followed by a train ride to the Czech Republic and Prague, city of Beethoven and Kafka. I loved it so much I found a job teaching ESL and lived for a time there in a land to which I've returned again and where dwells a part of myself forever. It wasn't the first foreign country I lived in...

As a wee Air Force laddie, my family was stationed in Kyoto for a couple years. Some of my earliest memories are of Japan and the incredible storms. In our high rise apartment I can remember seeing lightning split over the skyline and thunder trembling the glass. Mom sent me to the bathroom to hide until it was over, but the image is burned indelibly into my memory.

My initial solo foray to foreign lands was not free of mishap. One in particular comes to mind, when I missed a connection and ended up spending the night at the Dresden train station. As a US citizen uncertain of the German capacity for grudges, I was quite nervous to be there. In my addled, jet-lagged state, I feared torch-bearing mobs that would use me as a scapegoat for the firebombing of their city at the end of World War 2. Though eyed by roaming teenagers, my fears proved to be unfounded and in the morning I was allowed to depart the city unmolested.

The months I spent with a friend in Budapest were wonderful, a city of the arts where you can catch a Saturday matinee of The Marriage of Figaro and join the locals, large boisterous families with lots of kids, to clap five minutes for every aria and fifteen at the curtain. Hungarians really know how to appreciate opera, I've got the callouses to prove it!

Nowhere have I experienced a sensation of homecoming quite as profoundly as going to Scotland. The MacAdam blood sang in me when I deplaned at Glasgow...

...and upon reaching Edinburgh became raucous, like having a heavy metal concert inside my body. If you've ever experienced this, you know what I mean: it's like nothing else to arrive somewhere that is instantly familiar though you've never been before.

I love travelling and look forward to seeing new places. Top of the list, as mentioned above, is going to Egypt; I'd also like to see the Alhambra Palace...

...and Jerusalem.


Lidian said...

You are so lucky to have lived in so many amazing places...I was only in Amsterdam for a few days back in '89 but I liked it very much, and Belgium too. Have always wanted to travel more and intended to in college and after - and in fact, as you know, promptly went north to Canada, a CO of sorts (really) but that is not very far. Sometimes, not far enough.

At the time, coming to Toronto felt like coming home. I liked living in Boston a lot, too.

Someday I would also like to see a lot of the places you mention - Japan is on my list, and northern Germany, and definitely Scotland, where I have many far-off roots.


wngl said...

L/L, I spent some time on the east coast and came *this* close to living in Burlington, VT, but when the locals heard that I wasn't a Phish fan, they ran me out on a rail.

Paul said...

Those are some beautiful pictures you have there! My passport hasn't been stamped in a while, and I am dying to visit Prague,... this post has given me the traveling itch, badly!