If you’ve never had jet lag, prepare for an experience on par with a fever dream. Details seem awfully out of focus, a particular challenge when you’re trying to share a journey in written form in an Instalife world. But, I can’t describe it any better than that right now as I approach 1 am in Salamanca.
Taking this journey at this stage of my life took guts. I recognize that. We are supposed to be settled into a certain type of productive life. I was supposed to be either married, extolling the virtues of being a parent and/or have reached a career peak of responsibility and financial gain by now.
That’s not what happened.
I never wanted to be the type that treats the mundane as being the ultimate Facebook status update. No, that’s not living to me. Ordinary tasks are just a part of life. I don’t want to be validated for simply getting through the routine of a day. That’s not being blessed. I wanted to find the extraordinary in the ordinariness of it all. In many ways I have done just that, but I also know I bought that 80s myth of having it all. No, you can’t. You can have an item from column A or B, and egg rolls will definitely cost you more. Now matter the order, you will be forced to make a choice.
Who knew the Everest I thought I was scaling was just to the middle! Don’t get me wrong. I don’t regret any road traveled. The degrees of selfishness with which I’ve lived my life have fluctuated wildly over the years. Now, I find myself penning a second act I never expected to create and it can’t be one derived from being selfish, either. I was so secure in my choice to pick career over everything. Tonight, I am embracing the fever dream of having a middle-aged adventure of rediscovery and reinvention in Salamanca, Spain.
As I sit in the home of the kind woman who has made quite a life caring for the international contingent of students that descend upon this beautiful town daily, I am reminded of a quote by St. Augustine:
The world is a book, and those who don’t travel only read one page.
It is interesting how that quote came my way. I took a moment to visit my dear friend Kimberlee Andrews in San Diego a few weeks ago. It was a piece of graphic art found in a design store. (Amazing how design stores are EVERYWHERE these days. We may be broke, but dammit, we will nest with style!) It was literally a sign and a sign of things to come.
I don’t want to rehash how I’ve seen the world because of my career. At times, it was as glossy as an issue of Travel & Leisure. Other times, it was as urgent and eye-opening as the documentaries presented for a week at the Laemmle’s. Yet, right now, I am sitting in a humble room with a single bed, a single light, a single desk and a single standing wardrobe holding the 54 lbs. of personal items I thought necessary for this trip. It is a single life being chronicled right now, but here’s the difference.
I’m fucking happy to live in it again.
I think too much. I talk too much. I know it. I’ve lived so long in my head, I’m getting rickets when I should be a high kicking Rockette. Haha.
Earlier tonight, I received an Email from my close friend, Dr. Norma Vega. Much of why this is happening is because of her encouragement. She’s also staked her own “view from a broad” this summer in Portugal and Spain. (This continent doesn’t seem so expansive knowing there are several people from home having similar journeys at the same time. It’s beyond comforting.)
She asked for the details on this first day and I found myself having a hard time not vomiting it all up over this keyboard! I initially wanted to go on this whole tangent on how I wished people just took some pride in how they present themselves to the world when they travel, blah, blah, blah.
(I don’t want to see your Parmesan heels in swim slides, favorite sweat shorts or any other sign that you literally rolled out of bed to get to your flight. I mean, I did bust out a nice navy button shirt, cropped navy Gap jeans, navy/cream striped H&M plimsolls and this scarf from Zara for that element of pop. Yeah, I went for the effete and comfort, earning quite a few bemused stares from the Southies picking up their rough edged, hoodie sporting kin at Logan. So ends my Derek Blasberg moment.)
Instead, I’m gonna crib what I wrote to her in slightly wonky Spanish…
Treks are an essential aspect of life. We need to leave the comfort of a secure, safe journey to change roads once in a while. We should make an effort to take in as much of the human condition as we can, not stay tied to the devices that present such a small window of the world. It was interesting to see how many of the students I’ve joined on this trip were so worried they couldn’t Instagram or how they were glad that T-Mobile was their carrier. That got more interest than the fact we were on the road to Salamanca, Spain.
I fought the good fight once we left Barajas airport. Cue Aerosmith, I, too, didn’t want to miss a thing. Damn this jet lag. I slept nothing on the plane from Boston to Madrid, forcing a double feature of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and “Moulin Rouge.”