It’s been more than three and a half years since I’ve been out of the country, and considering how expensive travel is these days with fuel prices, I don’t expect to be leaving America’s borders any time soon. At first this realization six months ago was met with a feeling of despair and mourning, and I think it’s fair to say I went within myself and brooded over my misfortune for quite some time. But, as with any grief process, you eventually come to that plateau of accepting your lot in life, your situation, your existential playground, and you move on. Except travel is so intoxicating you can’t completely move on. From other things, perhaps, but not from it.
Once you’ve tasted it and felt that cool liquid slide down the back of your throat and chill your core with its excitement and wonder, the idea of you resignedly saying, “I can do without experiencing that again,” is a lie to yourself, and everyone (including yourself) knows it. For every man and woman who has traveled once and enjoyed it, there forever remains within them a fastidious yearning to once again don the rucksack, throw out the shaving razors and let the hair grow freely, pull out the map of cities or countrysides, bring forth the Moleskine or soft leather journal to put to use the pen, and lace the sandals or shoes to smash the champagne bottle against the ship that is called “Travel” so as to begin searching for experiences new and enlightening.
The only thing I suppose I can say I’ve resigned myself to is a sort of acquiescence to the idea that travel within the confines of the United States borders is perfectly fine for the time being. I’m poor, and that’s that. So the next option would be to set to the open road, but even this is not available to me thanks to a car accident I was in over a month ago. A very thoughtful, upper-class white male thought it prudent to not pay attention to the road and run his shiny, black Infiniti into the back of my car while I waited at a red light. My vehicle, named “Cecilia” after the Simon & Garfunkel tune, was totaled. So other than that, I have the airplane as my option, but that just uses up so much fuel these days to the point I have a hard time justifying their use. Plus tickets are incredibly expensive.
Thus, normally I would believe my potential for any travel plans to be foiled, but that is only because I lived in Nashville recently, which means my mind doesn’t go to third and fourth option: trains and busses. For whatever reason, there is no Amtrak station in Nashville, so living there simply removed the idea of journeying on the rails as being out of the question. But this summer I am in Dallas, Texas, my place of birth, and they do have such a station available to me, which is so very convenient since a train can play into helping me fulfill travel plans that have been in the works for more than a year now.
Last March several friends and I went out to New Mexico, and we fell in love with the state so much that we committed to going back out to reunite with one another in the summer of the following year. That time is upon us, and one of those men comes from a family who has a cabin out near Las Vegas, New Mexico.
Originally I’d hoped to take a train out there, but plans have changed enough to where a bus will have to do. A train will figure in to part of the return trip, so I guess I’ll still get a minute fix for my love of the rails. The main thing is getting to the cabin. This must happen.
I’m eager to enter this place cut off from much of civilization, or so I envision it as being in my mind. My friends and I will be there for a few days to commune with one another, with the Spirit, with nature, with the whole whambang thing, and when those days run out, we’ll head to the harsh aridity of Amarillo, Texas, for another couple of days to spend at a ranch.
I’d like to not take any technology with me, other than perhaps my phone in case there are emergencies, and I most likely will take my camera, for what is travel without photographic documentation? I have not decided if I will bring along some device on which I can listen to music; that will be a decision to make right before walking out the door, but I most assuredly will not bring along some sort of computer. I don’t want access to the internet, I don’t want to feel under the compulsion to check e-mail, and I won’t have any need to access some sort of Word document so as to type things. I will take pen and paper, and that is all I will need.
I aim to write, write, write, for there is still so much work to be done on a short story collection I’ve had in the works since late last summer. I need the peace and silence inherent in the adobe and red clay of New Mexico to surround me and lull me out of cacophony and into harmony inherent in the awareness of the beauty of serenity and resolute calm. I need to encounter the exquisiteness of barren lands so as to let the rock and its primordial essence surround me as I soak in the cruel sun so as to remember what it is like to feel small and valued all in a simultaneous juncture. I want to just sit and be still in a locale of nature that is humming with beauty and brutality at the same time. I believe that is what the soul screams for out of desperate need.