Friday, December 21, 2012

The Traveler

The following is part of a piece, "The Traveler," in Maeve Brennan's The Long-Winded Lady. It is the perfect description of yearning to travel and why one does it. I am already dusting off my passport.

I thought about Amsterdam and Marseilles and Algiers, all places where I have never been, and I wished I could turn myself into a transatlantic traveler for a few days, or even a week, and masquerade with luggage and a striped steamer rug in some distant hotel lobby, and allow everybody to believe that I had a very good and important reason for being there, and that when I left I would have an urgent reason for leaving, and that my next destination was fixed and depended on plans that could not be changed. 

I wanted to be at the mercy of strict arrangements for a little while, with a timetable to guide me and tickets and a passport to explain me, and to have a list of faraway hotel rooms that were unknown to me now but that soon would be perfectly familiar, 
because I would sleep in them. And my excuse and explanation for being wherever I found myself would always stand by me -- my suitcase, recognizable in any language. My suitcase would translate me to everybody's satisfaction and especially to my own satisfaction. 

And I would go to a city where the people spoke a language I did not understand, so that I could listen as much as I liked and still not eavesdrop. It is so nice to be able to listen to voices without being delayed by what is being said.

I especially love that last line. If you have ever been to a foreign city and sat in a cafe surrounded by people speaking unfamiliar languages of all sorts, you will understand what she means. I find it to be soothing to hear the sound of the voices - almost like a lullaby - and yet not be distracted by the words.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. I deleted this comment as the person's email address appeared. I didn't know how to remove it, but here is what she wrote, sans address:

      Your blog was a wonderful discovery for me this year. I read it every day and am disappointed if there doesn't happen to be a post. I've added a lot of the books you have mentioned to my TBR list - may have to get a new notebook! It's neat to delve into books I might never have thought of reading.

    2. Anonymous,
      Thank you so much for commenting with such kind words. I am happy that I have been able to add to your TBR list and quite understand about buying a new notebook. That really isn't a bad thing though, for in my opinion one can never have too many notebooks of any kind!

      Have a Happy New Year and I hope to hear more from you as you whittle away at your book list.