To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted. – Bill Bryson
I have been incredibly lucky this year. Not so much with the onslaught of chicken pox and shingles that lasted for six weeks, but with pretty much everything else.
Tim and I got to cross the Atlantic three times: once to attend the wedding of some dear friends in Paris; once to lead a small group of Americans through the wilds of Umbria; and the last time to mop up the damage we had done on the prior trip. Namely, to close on a little apartment that we bought with some friends in the magical city of Sulmona, in Abruzzo.
But, since I am a big proponent of the idea
that important and meaningful travel can be experienced close to home, as well, we also made two trips to New York City and had several visits with Tim’s mom in the picturesque seaport town of Mystic, Connecticut. I even managed a trip down to Richmond, Virginia for an opera fix and Tim went up to Maine for the always educational Camden Conference.
We met up with some European friends in the Berkshires in August and brought them back to Salem. We hosted travelers from Paris and County Cork, Ireland through our relationship with US SERVAS (a marvelous organization, and if you don’t know about it, please check it out). And we welcomed friends and family from Ohio, Utah, Virginia and Connecticut.
Especially meaningful for me was our trip to New York, in November. Even though I was just five minutes from being contagious and still a little spotty from chicken pox, I put on my big girl panties and went to hear my poetry — which had been set to music — performed at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Yes, the one on 57th Street. The practice, practice, practice one.
Unlike the other female poet and singers who were all decked out in tulle and sequins and lace, I was covered up like a Bedouin so as not to show any spots. And I was tired as hell. But the composer, my dear friend David Sisco, had written a delightfully complex and entertaining evening of song cycles based on the words of three (present and participating) living poets as well as Christina Rosetti, Gary Snyder and a most amusing collection of posts from the “Missed Connections” section of Craig’s List, which brought the house down. I could not not go. David wrote my segment for baritone Michael Kelly and, if I do say so myself, it was magnificent. Talk about a rewarding travel experience!
Those of you who read my ramblings regularly know that Italy is my favorite country . . . Paris is my favorite city . . . New York City is home . . . and everything else is gravy. What a year to have experienced all of it!
I don’t know yet what 2015 will hold beyond two already planned trips to Abruzzo, but it will be hard to beat 2014.
So I’ll be back in January with more, but for now I wish for all of you good travels, both near and far, easy writing and the best of holidays!