Wednesday, July 13, 2011

An Innocent Abroad

The new book is slowly taking shape and revelations from those past years continue to surprise me.  (Note to Readers: Mentioning my current work in progress again is either a savvy marketing ploy or points to the fact that there isn’t much of anything else going on in my life at the moment.  You decide.)
The chapter I just finished recounts how I arrived in Ireland with a suitcase, a backpack and no idea what I wanted to do.  I was staying for two weeks and had signed on to do some hiking with a group from Britain for one week, but the rest of the time was open and I had not given a thought about what to do, where to go or how I was going to get around.
At the time I thought I was being adventurous but, in looking back, I can’t believe how stupid I was, and naïve, and lucky (they almost didn’t let me in) and so very American.  I expect, if I really could find out where my head was at back then, I would discover I was simply assuming that, since they spoke English there, Ireland would be much like the US, which is sort of the assumption I made when I moved here.
When you come from a place as big as America, that really is an easy mistake to make, but to embark on what was to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip that had been booked months in advance and not to have pondered, even for a few moments, about where I might like to go or what I might like to see sounds a bit random, even for me.  Maybe, if I spent long enough sifting through the fragments of memories, photos and diary entries of that time, I’d find I wasn’t naïve, or lucky, or stupid, but simply too lazy to bother with an itinerary.
These days, I don’t travel to Haywards Heath without a full Southern Rail timetable in my pocket.  I’m a grandfather now; spontaneity no longer plays a large role in my life.  The notion of showing up in a foreign country on a whim makes me think, “Oh dear, don’t you think you’d better book a hotel and hire a car first?”  My old self didn’t think that way.  My old self seemed to believe adhering to a schedule was no way to let life happen to you.  And I suppose there is a time for that; everyone, at some point in their life, should just show up with nothing but a suitcase and go where the road leads them.
All I can say is, it worked for me.  How?  Well, you’ll have to buy the book to find out*
*Shameless marketing alert.

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