Traveling without Moving

My Saturday morning ritual is pretty much always the same: get up, start the coffee, feed Lulu (my sweet, little pug) and take her outside, where strewn across the driveway in blue plastic wrap is my weekend New York Times. To me, the newspaper is a time-honored weekend tradition, one that takes me back to being a kid watching Saturday morning cartoons while my dad faithfully read The Los Angeles Times over a bowl of Grape Nuts and a glass of Minute Maid OJ.

So here I sit, nearly 30 years later, cultivating my own morning ritual some 3,000 miles away. But instead of starting with the front page (as my pappy so often does), I instinctively sort through the pages and pull out my two favorite sections — Book Review and Travel. The fact that they’re conveniently bundled together week after week makes me feel like its kismet. Or, as is more likely the case, random chance since the weekend paper is split between Saturday and Sunday for us home delivery types.

This past weekend, I felt giddy as I discovered it was time for the annual Summer Book Review. Skimming the pages to find what books to add to my ever-growing list, I was delighted to find a large portion devoted to travel books – volumes, memoirs and travelogues from the likes of Paul Theroux and Elisabeth Eaves.

As I read the reviews, it stirred my wanderlust in a way that I hadn’t felt in a while (my need to suppress this desire to achieve some financial goals had been widely successful until this point in time). But as I read through each review, I longed to pack my backpack, grab my Moleskine and hit the road. I wanted to find myself in an unfamiliar place, navigating the streets with a tiny guide-book map in hand, all the while attempting to decipher a foreign language or calculate an exchange rate (albeit unsuccessfully as this skill somehow eludes after all these years) and just being open to the kindness of strangers, a new culture and learning something new about myself and what it means to truly be alive and present in a moment. The intangible souvenirs that make travel a gift.

But while I long to “throw off the bowlines” as Mark Twain famously said, I don’t feel like I’m missing out by staying put. I know the decisions I’ve made now will allow me to travel to my heart’s content down the road. For now, I will be content with my armchair travels and be eternally grateful for those writers who produce stunning literary works that allow me to travel the world without leaving home.

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