to travel

i've never really traveled much.  it's one of those things i could never afford.  i've been a working girl since i was just sixteen, making pizzas and selling books to help support myself.  in college, i always had a job nannying or waiting tables to pay for food, rent and tuition. i could never seem to save enough money to go anywhere substantial, and so i didn't, settling for a simple life.  once, i went on a road trip across the country, to a louisiana military base to visit a newly enlisted friend. driving that long haul with four stinky others, eating cold beans from cans, crammed like sardines into a tiny geo metro hatchback, i must say i was partly miserable almost all of the time.  and although it was memorable, the visits to area 51 and roswell, sleeping in desert truck stops, driving through torrential desert lightning storms, adopting three smelly dogs abandoned at a gas station... it wasn't an experience i would like to repeat.

sometimes my lack of worldly experience just makes me feel downright pathetic.  like, i'm such a loser.   everyone has been to europe, right?  i've only seen it in pictures.  and everyone has been to mexico.  i've heard about it in stories that my friends and family tell.  hell, the only time i left the good old U S of A was on a trip from bellingham to canada, but that was really only an adventure to get drunk when i was underage, and i poured a beer on some dirtbag's head and vowed i'd never return.  so you could see why this simple girl might feel a little troubled.

there have been a few moments of consolation for my wanderlust imagination. once was when my folks went to mexico for the first time.  upon their return, my mother was quite disturbed. truly, she was disturbed enough that she never wanted to go back.  upon further questioning, she said it was the extreme poverty that she found most disconcerting.  as a middle class american lady, donning khaki pedal pushers and teva sandals, out to see the ruins and beaches and culture and have a good time, her compassion and guilty conscience couldn't allow her to have fun in the shadow of inequity.  i understood, and it quieted my urge to travel.

yesterday, when i read an interview with painter christopher mir, i had a solid moment of reconciliation with myself.  as a painter, i sometimes feel as if i've traveled to far off places just by studying an image, by divulging in the details, by immersing myself in my work, and by traveling in my imagination.  can't that just be enough?

"I’m really devoted to this room. That is the escapism part. I don’t take these pictures... That’s not something I’m interested in doing...For my purposes, I really just want to play with these images. Going there definitely has appeal, but I’m some form of mutant monastic. I do this contemplative work in this little building and it’s very satisfying. It’s very cliché, but the universe is within. That’s the place to go. Even if you do travel to the far reaches you’d still have to go in there and react and feel light and have it sink in."  -christopher mir

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