The Discomfort of New Places

IMG_1444In theory, I enjoy the idea of travel. In reality, I miss my “stuff”. And knowing precisely where everything is.

There is nothing like 24 hours in airports and planes and a 6-hour time zone change to turn even the most Pollyanna-ish of us into raging maniacs of intolerance for humanity. And that is especially true if you have to connect to anyplace through LAX.

IMG_1470But the physical – and mental – discomfort of getting to and from a new place is not where the value of travel can be found. The value of travel, for me, is found in a new sense of understanding.

Speaking for myself, as much as I want to try to fit in – to have that truly locally inspired experience – it will be quite easy to spot me as a visitor.  While it can be exhilarating to break away from the familiar, it is disconcerting. Learning to negotiate my environment when it is unfamiliar has a rather steep learning curve fraught with opportunities to look idiotic. Try asking for postage in French. Or coffee in London (“you takin’?”) .

IMG_1485Whether it is learning that my northeastern compulsion to life’s pace, or aggressive driving, or whatever it is in my daily life that drives me, building more understanding of someone or something different for me comes from travel. This time around I learned that frozen concoctions are indeed delicious breakfast foods. And pineapple juice and champagne do indeed go together.

So along with those magnificent views, beautiful sunsets and sunrises, I hope I’ve learned, absorbed, and maybe take a bit of understanding what once was unfamiliar back with me.



Some people watch for the Back-to-School advertisements to gauge how near we are to the end of summer break. I use crickets.

When I can hear the crickets, I know it’s time to give some extra attention to planning for the Fall.  It’s a bittersweet sound for me; the mornings where I can linger over morning coffee are coming to a close.

If you are like me, it is a time when that to-do list becomes ever so much more desperate. The things I put off because I was “on vacation” have piled up. If not careful, I will get sucked into the swirling vortex of wasting every minute of my last unscheduled weeks on errands and chores.

For those of us who begin school before Labor Day, it feels like summer has ended – August is not really time off, it’s the time before.