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THE TRAVELER ~ 05.04.24

Updated: May 8

How fortunate we are when we travel. "Travel makes one modest" you know, "for you see what a tiny place you occupy in this world", and how "every hundred feet it changes". (R.Bola) And for me, change it did.

The above painting is one of mine and based on a photograph I took many years ago of an unknown traveler on the ferry ride from Nova Scotia to Prince Edward Island on Canada's east coast. And as it went on, life would eventually bring into the arms of a precious east coat work of art from the shores of the Atlantic; a Newfoundland mermaid, a selkie if you will, the one who I'd searched for all my life.

What's left of it I will spend with her. We will travel on together, which begs the question: "Given that we can live only a small part of what there is in us, what happens with the rest?" "We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place. We stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.”

But as we travel, and the road we're on narrows and our pace slows, our own mortality often comes into question. This is when “the fear of death might be described as the fear of not being able to become who we had planned to be."

Or where.

And in those imagined places, those spaces in our heads, there are landscapes, mountains, salt, soil, pastures of Icelandic poppies now frozen, coins and currency, letters, chapters of love, oceans of highways, sunny homes, some quiet and some not, lush forests of rain, slow sloths and the trills of the eagles measured against the heartbreak songs of whippoorwills, erotic pomegranates leaking large red conversations about music and art.

And those gypsies too. Don't forget the "wild-eyed gypsy girls." Some with windy words, some with laughter, passions, perversions, some with passports, some with regrets, and others with destination addiction; the belief that happiness lies in the next adventure, job or project, in the next relationship or location, with a new car or a bigger house, and that things have to look like that picture many of us carry around our heads.

But the reality for all of us is that unless we give up the idea that true happiness lies somewhere else . . . it will never be where we are.

Just where is that magical place? Perhaps right where you are.

There, in the cities of women and men, behind blue letters of love, indigo blue, are palettes of photographic stills, hidden in the shadows, all waiting for show-and-tell.

In each we weave, leave or take a memory, foot and fingerprints. I have been there and here, with travelers to and from, with thoughts, tears, blisters and bourbon, and all at the expense of something. Or someone. You. Me. Deposits and withdrawals. Travelers who enter into your life and those who's lives you enter.

Enter yours, enter theirs, here, there, and then most are gone.

But not all. Some stay.

And I thought, "perhaps one day we'll meet, and perhaps she'll stay. But the fear was that "where one city will rise a certain individual to glory, it will destroy another who is not suited to its personality, and I had no way of knowing. A person does not grow from the ground like a vine or a tree. One is not part of a plot of land. Mankind has legs so it can wander, and only through travel can we know where we belong or not, where we are loved and where we are rejected." (Roman Payne)

We were both wanderers, her and I, and I thought of her often, so one day, many years ago, I wandered to a place where I knew she herself had travelled. And there we met. Her, resting patiently under the light of an October caramel moon. And I staring at her. And as I looked on I thought . . . "Yes. She is as I'd imagined; larger than life."

And now "I sometimes think of the sun and the moon as" travelers and "lovers who rarely meet, always in chase, and almost always missing one another. But once in a while they do catch up, and they kiss, and the world stares in awe of their eclipse.” (anonymous)


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