Reliving my Childhood While on the Road
There's a painting hanging up in the guest bedroom of my mom's house. In it, you see a little boy, no older than 5 years old, with dark brown, curly hair and long white legs, sitting on the steps of a beach house on the shores of North Carolina. Atop the staircase, the boy appears deep in thought, resting his chin on his hand, similar to that of The Thinker, as he watches the waves gently crash on the shore as the sun rises above the horizon.
That little boy was me. My cousin painted it after seeing me perched outside the beach house's steps, early one morning before anybody else was up and moving around. An inquisitive, young boy, sitting on the steps of a beach house in a destination he had never been to, deep in thought. If I only knew then what I know now.
I've noticed a few fellow travel bloggers referencing their childhood lately. Annie, of theWayward Traveller,talks about a recent evening drive in Italy, which transported her back to her childhood when she would gaze at the stars through the car window. Cheri, of Writing Through the Fog, writes about trying to recall travel memories from growing up. Coincidentally, I too, have been taken back to my childhood recently. Several days in a row last week I walked down to the beach at sunset. When I arrive at the public access point, I make the half-mile walk around the bay to the north-end, where the shore winds around just enough so that I can get a straight view of the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean, unobstructed by the hills on both ends of the bay. As I've watched the sunset, often accompanied by one of the town's stray dogs, it has reminded me of that moment at the beach house over 20 years ago. While the destination and year may be drastically different, the wonder still remains.
Is this not one of the primary reasons we travel? That we want to be filled with that same wonder we had as a child? Give a child a bucket and a plastic shovel and he or she will spend all afternoon on a beach, content as can be. As they get older, those feelings of wonder become a little harder to fulfill. It just can't be a bucket and shovel anymore. It's that same desire to be filled with wonder that lends itself to the latest products. There's an unpredictability to getting our hands on the latest "thing" that has upped the ante just enough to fill us with that wonder of our childhood. But how long does that wonder last? When do you spend the most time with a new gift, be it a new dress, gadget, car, house, or otherwise? Is it after you've had it for a few years? No, no - it's those first few moments that you spend the most time with it; that is, until the luster slowly starts to fade.
Last week, as I spent each evening on the beach, while also getting bit by steroid-injected bugs, I thought about the wonder of it all. Some days I took my camera and got photos and videos of the sunset, while other days I didn't. It was often the days I didn't take my camera that I experienced the most stunning sunsets. Maybe it was the colors of the sky, or a dog sitting beside me watching the sunset, or two sail boats crossing paths as the sun dropped behind the horizon. I don't kick myself though for failing to bring my camera to get those shots. I find that sometimes I get more attached to the imitation, the photos and videos, that I lose sight of the real thing, the sunset itself. But as I sat there one evening, no camera in hand, observing Fido beside me watch the sunset, and watching the sailboats and kayaks come into the bay, I mumbled to myself: "Over 20 years later, and it still hasn't lost its luster."
That's the thing about travel, it hasn't lost its luster. My iPhone may, my aviators certainly have, rice and beans probably will, but travel holds true to that awe and wonder it filled me with so many years ago. And the day it ceases to fill me with wonder, will be the day I stop doing it. Will that come when there are no new destinations I want to visit? I doubt it. I've been to New York City nearly 10 times and each trip provides a new experience that captivates me yet again. And I'm convinced that it's that captivation that persuades people to do things they wouldn't normally do in order to travel, be it one week or for an entire year. They quit their careers, sell their possessions, work three jobs, use up every hour of their vacation time, and split up with their lovers; all for the sake of travel. They want to be a kid again. They want the chills, the goosebumps, and the quick heart beats that are reminiscent of a first kiss, a special Christmas, or a certain gift, but of which is often experienced through the means of travel.
Has their been a moment traveling that took you back to an experience as a child? Have you had a moment that filled you with such wonder that you never want to quit traveling?
*The first third of this post was written by hand. What's that you ask? Well, you can go into a pharmacy, grocery store, or…wait for it….Super Wal-Mart (I'm from the south. Target came on the scene later in my extended adolescence life that I'm not sure I've quite graduated from). There are these slender, 8-inch rods, called pens, that when you press them down on a paper-like surface, black ink comes out and you can make words, phrases, stick figures, and so on. And then I accompanied the pen with a black, moleskin notebook. I know, crazy, that you can create words and sentences on something other than a computer or phone. I consumed one Imperial Light Beer, of which was not complimentary, although it should probably be noted that it was during Happy Hour and I milked it, since I was there for an hour and a half and only had one. Most of the English language's expletives were used during the multiple Internet outages, of which therapy was to roll up large Mission tortillas similar to what would look like a stogy, and dip it in Nutella. During writing, I was under the influence of Mumford and Sons, Vertical Horizon, and Good Old War. Also, there's a rainbow outside my window right now, even though it hasn't rained in a couple weeks.