On the other side

I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.  —Mary Anne Radmacher
“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world. ”

Mary Anne Radmacher

I’ve been to a few places, though I always seem to want to search for more. In more places. Find new things about the world, and about myself.

Two days into my self-imposed displacement, I’m still just adjusting to the time zone shift, navigating the town, and starting to lean into the solitude of a place with no one I know. It’s been welcoming, and friendly, and quite warm, despite being cold outside. But it’s new and not quite home.

And figuring out what home is – that’s an important part of stepping away. Without perspectives outside of your comfort zones, you’ll miss the richness that any home provides.

Alaska

“To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.” – John Muir

Made it to my destination, Ketchikan, AK. I’ll call this home for the summer, and I’m excited to see what that will look like.

A new endeavor

Today I fly off what will be my longest trip away from what I know. My first extended-travel. Beyond a month here or there, six months will prove you be the most interesting to date.

It’s easy to be excited for the adventure, or anxious for the unknown. But the challenge isn’t what’s to come – rather it’s easing out of the comforts of familiar life. I’ve been wondering about how these last days would go, and it is amazing how deeply the roots go into a community you’re a part of.

The goods news is, roots can be as long as they need to, extending around the world if desired. and while I may be across the country, my community is just a phone call away.

Preparations

In getting ready to be away for an extended time I’ve found myself returning again and again to Rolf Potts’s Vagabonding. Some thoughts I’ve had from reading the book:

“Life at home can’t prepare you for how little you need on the road.”

While I’m not backpacking this time around, even sorting out what I need and don’t need has been cumbersome. I’ve stored a portion of my clothes, books, and superfluous ‘things’ that will wait for me until I return, at which point I’m hoping to sell off a good chunk of my goods either at a yard sale or online.

“Reading old travel books or novels set in faraway places, spinning globes, unfolding maps, playing world music, eating in ethnic restaurants, meeting friends in cafes . . . all these things are part of never-ending travel practice, not unlike doing scales on a piano, or shooting free-throws, or meditating.”

– Phil Cousineau, The Art of Pilgramage

Alaska was only a thought, somewhere distant, living at the edge of my periphery. I don’t recall when it took root. But when I visited last year it blossomed. There was a vastness to the country that I had never seen the likes of before – which stood before me in such a way that I felt both insignificant and at the same time a part of the frontier. It was a continuation of something I looked for that first time I was in Europe, and I knew I’d have to go back.

“If you’re already in debt, work your way out of it – and stay out. If you have a mortgage or other long-term debt, devise a situation  (such as property rental) that allows you to be independent of its obligations for long periods of time. Being free from debt’s burdens simply gives you more vagabonding options. And, for that matter, more life options.”

Well, debt is something I’ve considered in painstaking detail since getting out of school. I’ve made some financial mistakes; followed certain passions that weren’t always viable; spent too much, made too little, and sat idle occasionally while trying to reorient myself. Debt is a weight, and I work every day to lighten that load.

“I think if I can make a bundle of cash before I’m thirty and get out of this racket,” [Charlie Sheen says in Wall Street], “I’ll be able to ride my motorcycle across China.”

When I first saw this scene on video a few years ago, I nearly fell out of my seat. After all, Charlie Sheen or anyone else could work for eight months as a toiulet cleaner and have enough money to ride a motorcycle across China.

And that quote from Chapter 1 has stuck with me since first reading it in 2003. My copy of the book is beaten up, highlighted, scribbled in, and full of notes about places I want to see and methods of transportation. I regret not taking the plunge that year. Back when I was debt-free, and I needed a year off from school because I just couldn’t concentrate. But it’s never too late to do what you wanted to do. Sure, maybe it feels a little more complicated. But, it’s not too late.

I was having lunch the other day with some friends, and one of them asked whether I had the wanderlust. Yes, I do.

“To know the universe itself as a road, as many roads, as roads for traveling souls.”

– Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road

Cello variations

In listening to Bach’s Cello Suites, like I mentioned in this past Weekly Rundown,  I’m reminded of when I purchased my first copy of this album. I was in Chicago, I think February of 2010. I was there doing an audition for an MFA program, which I didn’t get into, but the night before I walked around the City.

I love Chicago. It has all the things I like about New York, with a little more organization. Strange that I should value organization in urban planning, but it was nice to walk a city block and know that the next block would be equidistant.

In a Barnes & Noble downtown, I purchased two CDs – Bach Cello Suites performed by Ralph Kirshbaum from Virgin Classics; and La Boheme, Puccini’s opera with Tebaldi, Bergonzi, Bastianini, and Serafin, from Decca’s Compact Opera Collection.

That same trip I saw Tracy Letts, Patrick Andrews, and Francis Guinan, in Mamet’s American Buffalo at the Steppenwolf Theatre.

I’d only been to Chicago one other time before that when I was very young, and I’m not sure when I’ll go back.

Amish County

I had every intention of showing the various Amish amenities that I experienced in PA. however, plans changed abruptly on Saturday and my photographing time was cut short. Even still, here are a couple of images I took as I wandered around:

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The view from a hill in Willow Street, PA. This hill was actually home for a Par 3, but no one was playing golf.

 

 

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This little plot of land was about a mile from the golf course, but on some Sundays, the yard would be full of horse-drawn buggies, the community coming to sit down for a large Sunday dinner.

 

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Custom designs for animal enclosures. 

The weather stopped cooperating on Sunday, and by Monday the winter storm Ezekiel was spreading snow flurries. But up to then, the weather was beautiful. I had seen some horses and carriages as I was driving around, but none while I was out walking. Possibly they were all working somewhere. So wasn’t able to photograph buggies…

I suppose another trip will be required sometime in the future.