Look, I know I am supposed to write something every week, but today writing is hard. I’m on vacation. And it’s especially hard to write now, not only because I’m in chill mode but also because I’m out of the country with no wifi and some kind of stone-age 2G network on my phone. This article is taking twenty hours to upload.
I’m going to do my best, though, because the topic this week is Favorite Things. And since I’m on vacation now, I’m going to write about one of my greatest pleasures: travel.
I love traveling. Well, let me clarify that: I love being somewhere different. I don’t necessarily love the process of getting there, particularly when accompanied by a herd of children. But once we’ve arrived I am inevitably suffused with sappy awe at the glorious wonders of the world. We live on such a dazzling planet, so graced with diversity, both in its people and its topography. I want to visit all of it, every continent, every country, every city. I want to watch the psychedelic colors of the Northern Lights dance above the trippy moonscape of Iceland; I want to spin through the cacophony of the souks of Marrakech; I want to wander the crumbly cloud-drenched ruins of Machu Picchu. My dream, even more than being a novelist, is to be a travel writer.
And a travel photographer. It’s an obsession of mine, the urge to capture the glory in a gorgeous place in my digital library. You know those Instagram accounts that post nothing but breathtaking images from around the world? I follow them with insatiable hunger. I love photography almost as much as I love writing. There is something not right about my fixation on these images—I know this—but I cannot stop myself from photographing everything when I travel. (I also cannot stop my writer self from describing everything I see in a running mental narrative, but that’s a topic for another time. Do others writers do that??)
I crave all kinds of trips: the active ones, where you climb and hike and surf and ski; and the intellectual ones, where you soak in the art and culture and ambience of the world’s great cities; and the meaningful ones, where you escape your little bubble to interact with people who live differently from you. But right now, a few weeks after my book launch, I’m fortunate enough to forgo all of that in favor of something else: sheer relaxation.
I’m currently lolling like a fool on a Caribbean beach, on the lazy kind of trip where I roll out of bed and sip my coffee and read my book enveloped in a wash of clear, bright sunshine, listening to the sweet hiss of wind through the palm fronds. I watch my children shrieking and bobbing on the turquoise waves, their little faces alight with the pure exuberance of being young and healthy and happy and well-loved, and I’m struck dumb with joy. I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve been gifted: the freedom to make my own choices, the education I’ve had, the chance to earn a decent living, the immense privilege of being able to experience some of the most beautiful places on the planet. Travel provides such a relief from the daily grind of deadlines and bills and conflict and responsibility and hideous news stories and the relentless horror of American politics, not to mention the twenty kinds of anxiety and stress I inflicted on myself during my recent book launch. It’s pure unadulterated pleasure. It is bliss.
I wish all of you were here this week too.