for many years, when i was a boy, i could lay on my bed and travel the world just by looking up or looking sideways; my walls were papered with maps that came with national geographic (a yearly christmas gift from my wyoming grandparents–the homesteaders, who liked to travel, at least in the continental west, in fact i don’t recall if they ever went east of the missouri river in all of their years together, but they were on intimate terms with the spine of the states–this side of the rockies and that one, from canada to mexico and all of the little nooks and crannies in-between.)
the imaginary adventures i went on, down the amazon and up the nile (it is interesting to note how some rivers are ‘up’ rivers and others are ‘down’, isn’t it? or is that just me? no matter.) these dreams of travel were flat, pre-galileo, pre-columbian if you’d rather, so flat that it always confounded me later, after i started to get around on my own, how round the world seemed, particularly if viewed from a great height, not just in an airplane, but from the top of a tall building or the peak of a mountain (pisgah, harney, pike’s, haleakala) when all the world it seems is laid at your feet, and your stomach does that little flip of acknowledgement of your smallness in spite of conquering the world as you are with your feet spread wide, the wind blowing your clothes so tight against your body you might actually be flying with the eagles, soaring, dipping, and riding the currents of time and nature.
i haven’t traveled much, at least not compared with some of my friends and acquaintances. yes, i’ve been here and there and i’ve had a lot fun in _____ and _______; amazed by this monument, and fell in love (again) with this painter or another when i finally saw their work in situ, the emanations of their life rumbling under the soles of my feet as i stood outside the door of their studio (i need not tell you the where, you can imagine that on your own) or stood at the very top of _____ ____ and let literature come to life, bells ringing, the crowd below roaring (or that could have been my companion poleaxed by vertigo screaming for me to come down from there).
and it’s interesting to note that i don’t mind so much that i haven’t been everywhere i dreamed of as a child, the jungles, the deserts, the savannahs, the mountains, and the seas (although someday i do hope to visit ___ in southern ______, because i feel a strong connection to that specific area of that particular continent–although i fear it may be only because of learning and not a spiritual one; the answer would only be found by being there.) but i consider myself fortunate to have visited as many places as i have through books, maps, paintings, and music and whether or not i ever stay at chateau de roussan or get to see “jeune homme nu assis au bord de la mer” at the louvre again doesn’t really matter; i’m quite happy traveling there in the comfort of my imagination.