It’s Alright

People congregating! Oakland 2019.

By now, I think we have learned that there are two kinds of people when it comes to staying at home. The first category of people say, “I am doing great, enjoying this time to relax and slow down. I am calling my friends on zoom and doing online yoga!”

The second category of people say “Oh yeah, well, I was kind of down yesterday but I am better today. Lots of people have it much worse than me. We’ll get through this, no problem.”  If you are in the first category, please know that the people in the second category are actually thinking “I am going out of my mind.”

My friend Karen, who can be in Category 1 or Category 2

As a member of the second category, I have been trying to console myself by thinking of the negative aspects of my  nomadic life. For too long, I have been able to travel to wherever sounds interesting, meet fascinating people, see the world’s best art and most beautiful landscapes, hear amazing music, learn about history and other cultures, walk through city streets until they feel like my own, learn to be not afraid, have spiritual experiences and occasionally find ways to be useful.

I guess I should have asked myself before now why I think this is such an ideal life.

And I did think of some reasons I might need a break from the freedom to travel.

When I travel, I miss my friends and family. Yes, I sure do miss them when I am thousands of miles away. Now I sure do miss them six or more feet away. No touching, no hanging out, no meals together. I visit my Gabe from his balcony. My arms hurt….

When I travel, I live in places that aren’t personal. For four years, I haven’t had my own house with my own things. A couple of weeks ago, I rented an adorable studio in Berkeley. In a random bag, I found a few things that have personalized my new place. A wall hanging I bought in Peru. A small rug I bought in Mexico.  A little bowl I bought Morocco.They remind me that I want to go back to Vietnam to buy a scarf like the one I lost in Moscow.

When I travel, I can’t have a dog. I miss living with dogs sooooo much. I haven’t asked my new landlord (my friend Marianne) whether I could have a dog here because I can’t have a dog for as long as I have $1500 in airline credit.  Here is a beautiful picture of Vic and Rosie, who Vic stole from me because, he said, I was traveling too much. You can see how much she misses me.

When I travel, I can’t wear leggings. I have a thing about women wearing leggings in public places in other countries. Since I am not in other countries or in public places, I can wear leggings now. Maybe I will buy some! Although that would expose me or someone else to germs for the sake of leggings. So, no.

When I travel, I get lonely sometimes. Solo travel in particular requires a little emotion management. I often keep my spirits up by listening to certain music. The same old music over and over again. So now I don’t have to listen to that stuff any more, especially this song that is part of my favorite travel video, which I have watched almost every day in the past three weeks. Years.

The celebrated travel writer, Paul Theroux, recently reported that “the freedom that most travelers feel is often a delusion.” At first, I was kind of shocked. He clarified, however, that he was referring to the kind of traveler who “self-isolates” in a destination hotel or resort, which I don’t do.

And then he said something that partly explains his genius. “The most enlightening trips I’ve taken have been the riskiest, the most crisis-ridden, in countries gripped by turmoil, enlarging my vision, offering glimpses of the future elsewhere. We are living in just such a moment of risk; and it is global. This crisis makes me want to light out for the territory ahead of the rest. It would be a great shame if it were not somehow witnessed.”

I suspect this is a teaser for Theroux’s next Big Book and I am insanely jealous that he will be a witness and he will write about it. I would probably drive off in Gabe’s car to be a witness and write about it if it weren’t for five of the best musicians who ever lived.  It turns out my favorite travel song is also a great not-travel song because, whatever we are doing, it matters how we do it. We’re  going to the end of the line.

23 comments

  1. Thank you, Kim, for another enlightening story! Wow, that Matt Harding video is wonderful! Who is he? Did you ever read The Places In Between by Rory Stewart? I listened to him read it aloud, and it was the most memorable travel journal I’ve ever known. And he got a dog along the way. (I was astonished when he ran against Boris for England’s PM, and I found out he’s quite conservative.)

    1. I would love to read that book — I have meant to for a long time although right now I am probably not in the mood for someone with a conservative perspective….although he did run against Boris….
      Matt Harding has made several related videos since 2008 but I think the 2012 one is the best. If you are interested, he gave a very entertaining presentation describing how he faked everything — he really didn’t but he had a lot of cranky critics who said he did so he was responding to them. Anyway, that’s on youtube if you search his name.

  2. ‘Travel is the saddest of the pleasures.” Paul Theroux. In a way, sorry to note that I am having one of the great adventures in life. I seem to be “stuck” on Yakushima Island in Japan but it’s only because at present I can’t seem to find any reason to depart. Miss you.

    1. OMG I am enjoying your time in Japan vicariously! I am not familiar with that island but it’s probably one of the safer places to be right now! I am not sure I agree with Theroux, although he roughs it and we all know how that can be wearing even if ultimately enriching. Stay in touch Mija.

  3. Loved this post Kim ! Also vicariously, enjoying your thoughts and shared experiences. I had the thought of Matt’s video…how we are a global family and can always celebrate that, maybe now even more so….also had the thought of you in the video in the place of Matt, dancing with our global family.. And the Traveling Wilbury’s – first time I have seen a video of them – wow….yes, we are all going through this unplanned journey together.

    1. I love those two videos soooo much. And I think the lesson for me is that it’s all unplanned, no matter how much we think we know where we are going. Enjoy your family and this time of reflection David.

  4. Hi Kim, I tried to reach you on your cell phone, when is a good time for us to talk? xoxo Judy

    Sent from Outlook

    ________________________________

  5. I really loved this post Kim!

    I love the videos, and also can’t stop watching the “Where the hell is Matt” marvel of dance and place.

    And I love the way you reach deep into yourself in your blog to reveal your feelings. Many of them are universal. Some are one of a kind Kim-isms. You’re really good at this stuff!

    BUT, you say I stole Rosie??? Nope. Negatory. Not true.

    Let me once again set the public record straight. No fake news allowed!

    Kim adopted Rosie in 2006 from a local German Shorthair Pointer rescue organization. Rose was about a year and a half old when she was found on a highway in Stanislaus County starving, knocked up and ten pounds underweight. Kim was working at a very demanding job in those days whereas I had recently retired. My Dalmatian Spot (yes, really) had recently departed to that heavenly dog park in the sky. So, rather than having Rosie stay at Kim’s home all day alone pining for company, I started taking Rose out every day for walks among the nearby redwoods in the hills or to Point Isabel on the bay (the largest off leash dog park in the USA).

    As a workaholic in those days, there were times when Kim came home just too late to tired to pick Rosie up. Those nights Rose would spend with me. This quickly became the norm during the work week and within a month or two it became clear to all three of us that Rosie had adopted me as her full time guardian and partner. Kim continued to have visitation and weekend hiking rights which she maintains to this day.

    Rosie turns 15 on April 16th which not coincidentally is also Kim’s birthday. She’s in great shape- well,… both Rosie AND Kim are in great shape- and Rose still runs around like a puppy on occasion (so does Kim) and can’t resist trying to catch the moles threatening to overrun Point Isabel. She is a very capable hunter despite my efforts to dissuade her from this obsession. She’s a happy pooch!

    And now onto that wonderful picture of Rosie and me.

    It was taken by a hiker passing by who said it looked as if Rose and I were having a serious conversation. She thoughtfully asked our permission to take a photo which I was glad to grant in return for a copy of the pic. Taken in a beautiful sun dappled meadow among the redwoods on a delightful Spring day last year, the shot is my all time favorite. And she was right. Rosie and I often share our deepest thoughts and feelings. After all, we’re best buddies.

    I owe Kim an enormous debt of gratitude for allowing me to enjoy my post retirement years with my constant companion, Rosie The Wonderdog.

    1. Looks like you are my second guest blogger! I don’t think our stories are inconsistent! I just remember calling you once to say “I’m coming over to pick up Rosie now.” And you said “Nope. She’s my dog now.” And I had to agree LOL

  6. Hey there, Kim. I love the Traveling Wilburies! I used to power-walk around the track with them playing on my portable cassette tape player, but I love the video with the voice, guitar, and spirit of Roy Orbison. He, George and Tom are gone but never forgotten, so sad. The Matt video was fabulous and made me tear-up.
    Your comparison of ’being home’ and traveling was more revealing of our humanity than Theroux’s philosophying, IMHO. There are only two reasons for traveling (other than transporting oneself to conduct business, or see family and friends): discomfort with the here and now or adventure—experiencing new and different people, culture, their suffering and joy. Adventurous people are open minded and open hearted, and in that state of being we can discover emotional terrains that were hidden from us at home.

    Does the adventurer come home changed?

  7. Love this, Kim! I’ll be singing “Well, it’s all right” now for a while (instead of show tunes). I especially loved this line in their song, “Well, it’s all right, even if you’re old and gray — cause you still got something to say!” 🙂

    1. Bonnie, I looked up the spelling for all right vs alright because I figured you had it (all) right. And officially you do. “All right” is preferred but “alright” is permitted by Merriam Webster as an informal version and also to distinguish from some usage, e.g., “the answers were all right.” Thank you for motivating me to track that down! And change the title! xoxoxo

  8. Kim, I’m dancing at my desk—waving my arms in the air and singing along with Matt Harding and the Traveling Willburys–jumping up and moving to the music! Loved reading this blog, even if a bit late. I’m just catching up with you. Wow, you’re prolific, Kim! I must say this was just the break I needed after two weeks of overseeing the biggest fundraiser we’ve ever done. I’m excited to say, we’ve raised the money to help Ignacio buy ABBA House and know it will continue to shelter and protect our many migrants on the road now to where they do not know. Like the title of Judy Jackson’s new film “Where Do We Find a Place of Peace” they ask. ABBA House is a temporary stop now where they can rest in safety and in Peace. For your readers who may see this I leave our NGO’s website; latinamericanrelieffund.org

    So thank you for giving me a break I couldn’t have enjoyed more on my life’s journey. So glad I met a kindred spirit, you Kim, in San Miguel. Keep traveling in you mind—it’s bringing up some good stuff for the rest of us who love the world and hope we will find a time in the future when we can travel and see more of it!

    Abrazos! Sher

    1. Hi Sher, I loved the picture of you dancing. That song is a treasure! Thank you for all your amazing work to help the migrants and refugees, and for all your many other kindnesses.Hope to see you soon! Besos….

  9. Thanks for posting this. I literally just wrote a long post about how this whole pandemic situation that would possibly leave a lasting effect to the way we can travel affects my personal goal of seeing the world more often (and thus to some extent, my motivation to go about with life in general) – just when I thought I finally have the independency to manage my own financial resources and time since I just left school and started working. But reading this, I start thinking maybe I should do more things that I won’t be able to do once I’m back to that travelling lifestyle… Such as adopting new pet, perhaps.

    Fingers crossed this whole pandemic is gone soon and we’ll figure out a way to travel safely despite all possible odds. Thanks for posting this. Greetings from a new follower!

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