There was a time when traveling happened often in my life and staying put was the exotic experience. Also, there was a time when I owned a car. When the spirit so moved, I’d take long drives and let my brain sort out issues while the landscape rolled by.
No more car. Limited means and opportunities for leaving the small town where I now live, work, read, write and sort out issues within four walls or while walking streets in which I can identify (and avoid) most ruts, most of the time.
A friend offers me the opportunity to leave my dog in good hands and push a diagonal from the southwest to the northeastern end of France. Leaving tomorrow, returning on Sunday. Bringing along the laptop of course. Hoping to visit Colmar again and bound to get a closer look at Mulhouse. Lending someone my apartment for the week i.e. I’ll do some clearing of accumulated stuff on this table before I go.
Internet searches yield up results that range from trivial to sublime with a lot of useless hits in between. The trivia winner yesterday went to a dated blog entry by a woman who greeted the readers with: Hey, gorgeous, and a display of her taut abdomen. The post was about her visit to the island of Lampedusa (prior to the full brunt of the refugee crisis which doesn’t feature in her report). The photos she took don’t feature either, leaving nothing but the power of the word to record her impressions. She liked the fish dinner a lot, even if it did take thirty or forty minutes before the catch landed in her plate. She deplored the run-down condition of some of the housing (with laundry hanging out of the windows, if you can imagine some squalor) and the trash on some of the streets. Traveling’s a risky business.
But so is writing. I’m about to read through a tricky section of my own writing. How good a writer is the fictional character and how interesting (or boring) is the short story she wants her uncle to read? How useful is it in the overall story? What about his reactions? And, of course, what about guilt and its radioactive half-life? How long does guilt last before it turns into something else? How useful (or useless) once an issue has run its course, or turned into something else? Can you resolve or settle old hurts once and for all? When stuck with a dead albatross, what options can a character exercise?
I don’t own a TV and hadn’t watched a game of tennis in a long time. Did so yesterday at a neighbor’s with tremendous enjoyment at the concentrated fury in Nadal’s eyes when he missed the ball or struck it out of bounds. Not fury of the sputtering, ineffectual kind. Laser-sharp focus. Orders to every muscle to stay on task. Meanwhile, us bumpkins, all soft in the middle and slow on our feet – enjoy every exchange of a tiny sphere traveling at 213 km/hr above a court of sienna-colored earth.