December 30, 2011 § 51 Comments
Sometimes, I think my view of the world is a very narrow one. The amount of reading I do, I hope, broadens the mind a bit, but I am not sure if it does enough. I see a great many people a great deal of the time, and there are no restrictions in terms of conversation, but I don’t actually go very far. A lack of funds and being a single mother without anyone who can babysit for much more than an evening, rather precludes travel. I know flights can be cheap but I never seem to find the ones for 99p, or if I do they leave at 3am from some airport in the middle of fucking nowhere and charge £315,248 for the return. I’m sure I could find a way, though, and I often wonder if I shouldn’t take off somewhere for a week or a fortnight or a month, even, and come back with renewed eyes?
I have a friend who is a mover and shaker in film. She is a devoted mother but she goes away a lot for her work. She finds herself in faraway places in unusual and varied circumstances. Her new partner is from a very different culture from her own. She met him at a meeting in, for the sake of argument, Timbuktu. He is part-European, part something quite else. She has completely taken on board his global nationality and existence. I think she is a wonderful and inspiring and exotic creature, talented and beautiful and original and brilliant. I adore her and we laugh together a lot. She is into various leanings which I dismiss as pretentious clap-trap; she reads endless books on various aspects of spirituality which I feel are more than dubious mumbo-jumbo, and it is with tremendous affection that I sometimes call her Mystic Mary.
But I feel I can easily imagine at which one of us Whomsoever it is on High is laughing. Mystic Mary with her lovely, loopyness; and worldly existence; and exciting, unexpected fellow and ideas; and who flits between London, LA and Geneva or wherever, with all the verve and joy of a person who is embracing the world? Or me, who trudges between my front door, the school gates and the local Co-op with a certain hunch of familiarity with my friendly pavements and a solitary, seasonal scowl; a sole text manifestly lacking soul the only smidgen of anything that means I may have been, for all of 23 seconds and anyway months ago now, in the mind of a man (LS) other than the fastest dentist in the West (who can see me off in about 25)?
I should take a few leaves out of Mystic Mary’s book. I should put some childcare in place and board a plane to somewhere and see colours and sights and people and places, and hear opinions and views that will shake me about. A downtrodden person I know just came back from a week in South America and said it made him look at the world in a whole new light. He is determined to become more chilled and remain so. I don’t know if it worked. Which reminds me of something my father used to say to me: Nothing matters very much, and very much doesn’t matter at all.
Travel not to find a new man – I am under no such misplaced illusion – but travel to find a new attitude? A new outlook on a rather insular life?
But where to go? And how? Alone or with a friend? These questions come round again and again. I am excited by the thought of, variously, Chicago, Mumbai, Sao Paolo, Moscow, Timbuktu. I am plucking at names here! Anywhere! I go through my ideal travel companions, be they Mrs Standard Bearer or Charlotte or Janey, or whoever, and I think, yeah, and how do I suppose they could take time out just like that and, even if they could, why on earth they’d like to do so with me?
So it is, I don’t ever get very far.
Reality sets in. The prospect of missing my children. Wherefore the money to fund this folly anyway? Or indeed the childcare to facilitate it? Also, a terrible fondness for my own bed, and a fatal addiction to gossiping and giggling with my family and already friends.
A love of home. And an abiding fear that a plankton flight to Timbuktu is really only a glorified pottery course for all the good it would do me. Something rather sad and pathetic about it, and I can’t see myself, somehow, making of it what that American author did, the one who wrote Eat, Pray, Love, (a second husband, a bestselling book and a movie, among other things). And all the apparent good would probably rub off the moment I stepped back across my own beloved threshold, like so much dank clay washed from the hands and forearms down the sink of the kitchen in the church hall when Tuesday evening’s class comes to an end.
So it is, narrow-minded maybe, that for the moment, I am sticking with the Travel Section in my favourite bookshop and just dreaming, whither?