It is Tuesday, November 21st. I am writing this post a day early – in the SUN, while savoring some delicious Hershey’s chocolate – because we leave tomorrow for our Thanksgiving holiday. What a treat. All of it. The chocolate, the sun, and the knowledge that a few days off are in store (and lots of delicious food, and the mixed adventures of family time).
The theme of today’s post is travel because, for one, I am craving a trip somewhere (I almost always am), and, secondly, because I discovered some old travel journals here the other week. One of my specialties at the warehouse, as you may previously have read, is going through boxes of books. It was probably deemed a specialty because no one else wanted to do it – it’s quite dusty and involves a lot of redundant activity - but I really sort of enjoy it once I get into it. Often, the box contents are lackluster: old hardbacks or paperbacks no one is ever going to read. Sometimes, they are nice leather-bound volumes that end up in the office I built for myself out of bookshelves, to be lotted and sold in future auctions; they are beautiful decorative items. But the things that get me the most excited when I find them, the ones that I put aside to pour over when the warehouse is a little bit less busy and I can concentrate on creative endeavors, are the more personal books. The old notebooks, or schoolbooks, or the books with beautiful inscriptions in their front pages, are the ones that speak to me. An entire life’s travels came out of a box last week: recorded recollections, in journals of many shapes and sizes, that spanned many continents and more years. Somehow, they ended up on our doorstep.
They are quite pleasurable to skim. Written in the 70s and early 80s, they are the Michelin guide lovers’ true tale across England, France, Spain, Japan, India, and beyond. They are full of her ups and downs, trials and tribulations: days too hot to bear, admirations of marvelous architecture, detailed accounts of delicious meals had and ones almost too mediocre to choke down. They are not the most evocative of accounts: they are quite matter-of-fact, but they certainly get across her way of thinking - a slightly bratty, entitled one, but one that appreciates the beauty in the world at every turn, and that matures, I think, with each new trip.
Travel, I think, has the power above all else to help us grow. It makes us uncomfortable, as it did this woman by all of her accounts (in one, she describes the many roaches she encountered on a trip to India), and it forces us to find new ways of working through our discomfort. We must grow through this process, because we have to reach for things that were previously unknown to us, outside of ourselves. I find it so wonderful that this woman so meticulously kept track of her journeys, because this growing process got tracked, unbeknownst to her, in the process. And a record of her life, and her growth, has been left, beautifully and leather-bound, behind.
- Olivia Andrews Dillingham