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here and now

November 12, 2011

Recently I heard from a distant cousin who lives far away, one who usually checks in only at the end of the year, with hir holiday letter. Zie told me of the trips hir family has taken, and asked about our recent travels. My first inclination was to respond by saying, given my ongoing unemployment, we haven’t taken any “big” trips in several years. But that seemed kind of defeatist, so I decided to delay answering until I had something more interesting to say.

This afternoon, I ambled around Uncle Boulder, photographing leaves, and began pondering why I feel like a lack of big trips misses the real story.

I do love to travel. I like finding new places, and revisiting old favorites. I enjoy surprising myself by making choices I wouldn’t at home. I like meeting new people. I like discovering different ways of seeing the world. I like encountering unfamiliar ideas. It’s all good.

But I realized this afternoon that a lot of the big trips Spouse and I took in the past were important beyond simply being enjoyable. I would anticipate them, sometimes for months or years; as they happened, I would soak up delight and mischance and everything else; and afterward, I would remember them often with relish. All of these phases mattered because my everyday life, all the days we weren’t traveling, was kind of miserable. So I really needed something amazing to look forward to, to help me get through every ordinary day.

Since we moved to Maryland, my everyday life is totally different. I’m deeply attached to our neighborhood, and its general area. Spouse and I frequently visit other places in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Alexandria (Virginia). The two “little” trips we took in 2011 were not terribly far away – Chincoteague (Virginia), and Paducah (Kentucky), but I enjoyed them thoroughly, and I look forward to revisiting them someday.

I could feel deprived of trips to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, or Australia and New Zealand, like many members of my family have been able to take in recent years. But surprisingly, I don’t.

With a happy and fulfilling everyday life, I’m more content than I’ve ever been. I have friends online and offline. I write for two blogs (of my own) somewhat regularly, and for a third more infrequently. I photograph. I read. I take long walks outside. I play with art. I meet people. I explore places and ideas, often at the same time.

Here is the only place I need to be these days. A big change, and I like it.

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