15 March 2011

Lament of a 21st Century Traveler

As a traveler, an inveterate wanderer, I long to see many things that are gone now. I want to sleep on a roof terrace in Fez under the stars -- but there isn't a city in the world now from which the stars can still be seen at night. Not the stars I'm thinking of, where the Milky Way is as plain as the Big Dipper. I've seen those stars from a mountain in Hawaii, and from the open sea, and nowhere else. I miss them. I like modern conveniences, like plumbing and wifi and cookies, but to achieve them I must kiss goodbye the stars. Choices like these, if nothing else, will keep me wandering. I long to buy a house, but where? Where could I possibly choose to live for long enough to justify a mortgage? In which country, what climate, which degree of civilization? It's impossible. I'll be renting for a long time now, keeping my living places clean and walls eggshell-white for someone else, instead of painting them aqua-green and tiling the kitchen and refitting the cabinetry and putting up contact-paper fishes swimming in the painted sea. I long for my own space to do with as I choose, my own kingdom to tear down or build up or sell as I choose, and yet I have no idea where to put it. If only I could see the stars from the center of a city, I would stake my life there.

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