Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Thoughts From the Train

It's weird to feel jealous when I hear other people talking about travel. For eight months it's all I've done. Every few weeks I'm boarding a plane for a new country, or hopping on a train to ride thousands of kilometers into my unknown. And yet when I hear someone saying how they're going to Brazil in a week I can't help but feel a tang of envy. Never mind that in that same amount of time, I'd be on my way over different seas to an equally favoured destination.

To me, travel isn't special. It isn't something remote, or difficult, or one of those things that only a few select people can do. It's just something that is. It's a part of my life.

But when I hear someone else talk about travel, all that disappears. It takes on the quality it once had when viewed from the outside. This person leaving for South America (never mind that I don't ever want to go back there – aside from Easter Island, but – you know – that hardly counts) is going to experience a life of luxury, and excitement on neon streets, topping it off with local culture, and wide spread emotional growth, and tales to last the ages.

In reality they'll go to a hostel, have some alright times, get a good story, and then sell their week as amazing based on the events of a few hours. That's how travel books work, how travel shows work, and how anecdotes work.

Knowing that the ideal is a fantasy doesn't make it any less desirable though. No, I still feel jealous of the glamorous jet setting life they live. They become the blank slates onto which I project everything the fifteen year old version of myself believed this life to be. Once the unobtainable is obtained it ceases to be. Still, this tabula rasa appears the perfect breeding ground for the object petit a.

I know it's ridiculous for me to feel jealous of other peoples travels, when I'm living the same life they are. And yet, there it is.


I want to point out that everyone can live this life. The number of people I've heard say, “oh I wish I was doing what you were doing,” or, “there's no way I could do that, but I'd love to.” Well it's just getting silly.

Either they're just saying things to say them – in which case, why bother. Or they really believe it's beyond them. I want to point out that I am not some uber rich person who has b een given everything – still, I acknowledge that I've been lucky along the way, but no more-so than most middle class North Americans.

I worked as a high school teacher for three years. And in those three years I saved enough money to visit every continent in the world. A high school teacher. Three years. I'm not sure if you're aware or not, but we are not amongst the highest paid. Couple that with the fact that had I been really trying to skimp on cash, I could have cut my budget in half. Perhaps more in this day and age where you can get free accommodations nearly anywhere in the world (I acknowledge you exist Couch Surfing, I'm still just a wee bit terrified of you.)

So – here's the thing, you really want to travel? Well then why aren't you – go do it. Stop talking about it and act. Hell, most people assume this was some life long dream of mine. Couldn't be further than the truth. It was the dream of a buddy of mine – for me? It was just something I said – hell, I bet I could do that – while snapping beer bottle caps into a basket nailed above our television set while watching travel TV in downtown Toronto.

Imagine what you could accomplish with motivation?


I only have two more books left. I just finished “How to lose friends and alienate people.”

I have a book by the Shopaholic person, and a book about – I don't know – it's called the Chinese Lover. Soon I will have no books left. There are no plugs on this train, and I have only the two books to keep me company. We'll see how long they last.


I am both hungry and thirsty, and while I think I have good provisions, they need to last me the full 24 hours. When they're gone, they're gone. It's kinda terrifying.


Ohh... look at that, there is a plug on this train. And by getting down on the ground, and reaching under the hall rug, I can thread my power cord from the source all the way to my bed. Hours I have wasted sleeping. Hours from 4:20 to 7:50 where I could have been, I don't know – watching Ghostbusters 2 or listening to podcasts. Still, after that sleep I don't feel as sick as I have lately, and my headache is mostly gone. So I guess it was for the best. I guess.


it strikes me that all my memories of Ghostbusters 2 actually take place during Ghostbusters 1, which begs the question – just what happened in the second movie? I mean, sure I remember a guy in a painting, and the statue of liberty – but, what really went on? Only one way to find out, I guess. But that will wait until tomorrow.

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