Yes I am procrastinating. I’m writing this on Tuesday night while I have impending deadlines, projects I have to complete in the next couple of weeks, and I’m here writing. Because I don’t have a more relevant pop culture reference, the reason I’m writing instead of doing said tasks is because ish is scressful bruh.
Photo credit: http://twitpic.com/c6ljzk
In my attempt to avoid my list of things to do I think about one of my favorite things.
I don’t have many fond memories of childhood, but one of the things I remember and miss were the long trips to visit the motherland. We’d pile into our bronco, packed with our belongings and things we were going to give to our family we were visiting. We’d drive for 20 hours, arriving in Texas to briefly meet with family. It really served as a refueling station. After a night of sleep we’d be back on the road and on the way to a land that although I’d only visit a few times, felt like home.
Secretly, the trip was in my top 5 favorite things about the whole ordeal. We never ate out at home, but on the road, it wasn’t like the kitchen could come with us, so we were allowed to get hamburgers and fries, all the things I could never get normally.
During the day, after making up songs with my sister (go ahead ask her, they were catchy and we still sing them) and after getting bored of looking at the scenery and car plates, I’d pull out my book and read until I started getting a headache. I’d get carried off to heartland and pretend I owned a farm and a horse, or read about Ella, the girl who had to obey every command and pretend my life was hers, or read about Mexico before the revolution and pretend I lived on a hacienda. I could dream in that truck.
At night when it was time to go to bed, my sister and I would fight over who would sleep in what direction in the trunk, and try to stay still so we wouldn’t be woken up by the others feet in our face. I’d start playing my walkman and listen to the radio and finally be able to listen to music I was forbidden from listening to. I’d pretend to go to sleep but would stay up to see the street lights pass by.
I’d eventually doze off and in the morning would be awakened by the soft orange and pink hues of the sunrise. I would check my watch, 6:30am, ask how long we had until we got to our destination, and would go back to sleep.
After arriving in Texas and getting on the road again, passing through the most boring and painfully long process of crossing the border, we’d be back in the car and on a straight shot to home.
Home, where towns existed on the sides of mountains, where there were more volkswagen than I had ever seen in my life, where every 5 miles there were vendors selling fresas con crema or fresh fruit on the side of the road.
I never felt rich, but taking trips to another country, and being able to do so because we did crazy things like drive all day and night, and had family we could stay with so we wouldn’t have to get a hotel, made traveling to another country possible. I didn’t realize it then, but I was privileged in the sense that I got to see another culture (even though it was my own) than most of the suburbanites that I went to school with.
There is a proverb that says he who does not travel does not know the value of men. The more you increase your exposure to people from different places of the world the more you realize we’re a lot more similar than we are different. Sure we have different customs and rituals. Our food and languages vary. But at the core, as people, we share a lot. It’s a lot easier to see people as human if you understand how we are connected.
That’s why when I’ve traveled in the years after I left home, I always wanted to experience the local experience. Hotels and museums are fun. But show me how people live, talk to me about your day, your life. That’s where you really find value.
I credit that early traveling we did, to my ability to see different view points, and to be tolerant of those view points. It’s when I’ve been in one place for too long that my thoughts start to poison that humanity. I forget that people have more or less the same motivations. We want a better life for ourselves and for our children. We want to feel loved and fulfilled. It’s all the same, the way we go about it is different.
And it’s when I start forgetting that, that the bug to travel bites me again. I yearn to be on the road, to see new places, to try new food, to meet new people.
The bug bit me again, and folks, it’s time.