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The travel marathon is over

…at least for now. Obviously I wasn’t on the road the entire time, because I took this picture of balloons at the market one Saturday while I was home. But the balloons mirror how I feel. Hello home! Hello family! Hello Sandy, cats, and Weber grill!

Hello, also, writing. I’d like to say that business travel gives me many opportunities to get into my writing head, but the opposite is true. After the first blush of any trip, I fall into the cycle of work/sleep/travel where it is almost impossible to generate that sustained creative focus that is part of writing. But that’s a reality of the working life and has been true at every job.

Joan Frye Williams and I briefly exchanged observations about travel while we were at WilsWorld. You could almost get me to pay you for the opportunity to speak. But modern American business travel is gruesome. Fetid, noisy, crowded, airless, slow, hot, and cold — and the food sucks. The very best you can do is a wan Disneyland facsimile of “good food.” At worst, you stand at the corner of Hamburger and Donut, wondering when you will see a living thing again.

But then I get a chance to spend a quiet hour over lunch with a librarian I’ve always wanted to get to know better; or I have an hour to walk down State Street in Madison completely unescorted; or I wake up early and see a sunrise in a new parallel; or my talk goes well and I feel gratified. Or the man next to me on the crowded, fetid, airless flight turns to me and tells me how he spent 20 years managing a Dairy Queen and he is returning from visiting his son, the med student, and his eyes shine, and I know how lucky I am to share that moment, he and I, on that crowded,  stinky ship heading home.

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8 Comments

  1. We’re so pleased and honored that you came to speak to us in lovely Madison. :)

    Friday, July 31, 2009 at 10:37 am | Permalink
  2. And it was wonderful to actually get to spend time with you!! Thank you!

    Friday, July 31, 2009 at 10:59 am | Permalink
  3. GinaMLS wrote:

    Yes!! That’s what it’s like.

    Even with more local travel. Caught between lonely and just wanting to be left alone. Inspired by the brilliant people you meet, yet exhausted with the idea of having one more conversation. Giddy with a sort of vacation eating mentality, but repulsed by the options, longing for a tomato picked fresh from the garden.

    Each trip is filled with goodness, greatness really, but it’s always so much better to go home. I think, though, that the act of “going home” is the best part. Just to say “I’m on my way home” can be the best part of an adventure.

    Friday, July 31, 2009 at 11:19 am | Permalink
  4. “Caught between lonely and just wanting to be left alone” — spot-on. Maybe we need to commission David Lee King to set our words to music — the Library Traveler’s Lament :)

    Friday, July 31, 2009 at 11:21 am | Permalink
  5. David wrote:

    That’s what’s missing from library-cons: filk singing.

    Or no, maybe not ;-)

    Friday, July 31, 2009 at 11:50 am | Permalink
  6. pollyalida wrote:

    You and ginamls have captured the feeling perfectly. And yes, we need a folk song. Darn, now I have “Lord I’m five hundred miles away from home” stuck in my head!

    Saturday, August 1, 2009 at 1:27 am | Permalink
  7. Oo! Write me a filk and I’ll sing it!

    Saturday, August 1, 2009 at 10:09 am | Permalink
  8. Every day is a new day. The picture of balloon let us feel good. Life like its color.

    Monday, August 3, 2009 at 8:48 am | Permalink

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