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The Travel Dilemma
Missing the Romance
We continue to live in strange times. We know that, and yet the strangeness shifts and we’re left to navigate new and unsettling circumstances. We keep saying this and yet it remains the case. I’ve been talking with friends and family recently about the complexities of travel. While that isn’t the most urgent situation, what gives us pleasure does matter on some basic level.
What strikes me is just how much anticipation is part of traveling. Before you head on a road trip to Montana or to Southern Italy or on a pilgrimage to Kyoto it’s natural to dream about what that’s going to be like. You imagine what you’re going to see, where you’re going to stay, what you’re going to eat, even what you’re going to wear.
That’s out the window. Now you’re mostly concerned with logistical matters that instill you with a mild (or not so mild) sense of dread. COVID tests, Visa requirements, and other demands that shift from day to day. It’s not exactly romantic. And in some cases it’s just too much and you reconsider the whole thing.
Our relationship to travel has evolved over the last two years. When I pull back and consider from a distance I fear that we’re draining romance from our lives. Travel is rarely as good as the snapshots: There are lines, delays and loud people jabbering at the table next to you. Travel is complications, but in our memory those complications are elegantly smoothed over.
There’s nothing wrong with that. This habit of adding a flattering filter, as it were, is very human. And without that we’re left with colder, harder facts. Those impersonal logistics are not good for the soul, not good for art and not good for most of the things we aspire to. Travel is escape. Without that escape we’re left with a life that’s lost some well-earned romance. Right now I think we all could use a bit more romance.