Tuesday, November 6, 2018
Travelin' Man ... Not So Much Anymore ...
Later today, I'll be going down to the Post Office to begin the process of renewing my passport. I'm not sure why. It's pretty certain I'll not be traveling outside the country from now on. Unlike Ulysses in Tennyson's eponymous poem, although I would love to keep traveling--"to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield" (as the older Ulysses puts it), I'm just not capable of sailing with him these days. (Link to entire poem.)
It wasn't always so, of course. I managed to go to Europe several times--once, in the spring of 1999, chasing Mary Shelley's ghost all over Europe (England-Wales-France-Switzerland-Germany-Italy). And for nearly twenty consecutive years, Joyce and I drove up to Stratford, Ontario, for an August week of play-going at the Stratford Theater Festival. This year ... we couldn't do it. Had to cancel our reservations, and few things I've done in my life have been more painful than that.
We'd loved that Stratford week. We had a nice hotel right downtown. We'd arrive on Monday evening. Park the car. And not drive again (unless we wanted to) until we headed home late Sunday afternoon after having seen eleven plays in six days (several, always, by the Bard). Otherwise, we walked everywhere. The Festival has four venues, all within walking distance from our hotel--and so we did. Such delightful exhaustion at the end of all ...
Until very recently, Joyce and I would take long car trips around the country--to visit family or (often often!) to check out literary sites: the homes (and graves) of American authors, settings for their stories and novels, etc. These trips with her were among the greatest joys of my life.
I never used to worry about travel; if I wanted to go somewhere and do something, I did. One of my favorites? Going to southeastern Alaska in August 1993, hiking over the Chilkoot Trail into the Canadian Yukon--the very trail that figures prominently in The Call of the Wild.
"Things fall apart," as Yeats reminded us. And among those "things" are, unfortunately, people. As regular visitors to this site know, I have been in a struggle with metastatic prostate cancer since my first diagnosis late in 2004, and as the treatments have become ever more demanding, the meds more diminishing and enervating, I just don't have the energy to do even a sliver of the things I used to do--and want to do.
And, oh, those things I still want to do! That I still dream of doing! A road trip to see all the places I lived in the Southwest when I was a boy ... flying to visit places I've never been--and want to be (Scotland, where my mother spent a year of her girlhood; Hawaii--the only state I have not seen; the Far East; Central and South America; the ...).
And so, today, I will drive down to the Post Office, submit my documents for a passport renewal, thereby making it possible, if never really probable, to drive or wing off to a wider world, my love beside me, holding my hand.