All good things must come to an end. And other good things must begin. This year’s epic travel was thoroughly enjoyable, and I really felt that I learned a lot from the places I visited. I write this from the airplane on my way back to New York, after a full month outside the US. This trip was exactly what I needed, in so many ways. It was relaxing, it was challenging, and most importantly it shook things up and made me look at the world in a new way again. Each year, when I travel to some place I have never been, I realize that it almost does not matter where I go per se, but that I go. Forcing myself out of my normal routine, experiencing the new, shaking up my habits — these are the things that invigorate my life, and it is why I do them as much as possible. It is in the break from tradition and routine and ritual, and the exposure to new ones that I find the most meaning in life’s experiences. The old ones that I go back to, the new ones I integrate, and the ones I let go or modify with new information.
I come back to a heavy work schedule, but feel not at all daunted or bothered by this. I feel invigorated by the past few weeks and ready for a new look at both old and new projects in my life, whether they be professional or personal. Onward.
It can be difficult adjusting to doing almost nothing. I mean, I was raised in a certain way, and one can feel a little guilty not doing anything but luxuriating on a beach all day, reading and sleeping and swimming and staring at the water. But I persevere. Still, today Arnaud and I stopped at a couple of small sites of interest in Mykonos on our way to the beach today, and took in some spectacular views (as we do most days). Check out the pics below…
I leave tonight for a multi week road trip across Spain (with 2 brief stopovers in Paris going and coming). I will be blogging along the way, so stay tuned for some fotos y comentarios. Roughly speaking, Josh in I will start in Madrid and end in Barcelona. More or less here is our ruta:
Should be fun. Hasta pronto!
Despite the very high humidity, the last two days have been a lot of fun and pretty relaxing. We have spent a fair amount of time on the beach, walking the island, going to tea, drinking and most of all eating. There is something really great about getting to know a new group and cooking and eating together. This has been exactly the kind of break I needed, and everyone here is really great. Some of our party are leaving tomorrow for a more or less normal work week. And three of us will stay til Tuesday and then head back. It started raining heavily about an hour ago after two days of pretty uninterrupted sunshine (right, as luck would have it, as we were on our way to the store), but we have taken it all in stride and are hanging out getting ready with dinner and conversation and lazing about. Just what a vacation should be.
After a couple of trains, a van, a ferry and a walk, we made it to our rental house on Fire Island. The location is great and the house is…rustic. Which is just to say that it is in a bit of disrepair and not as clean as it could be. It is also hotter than hell here and cooling is in short supply. The houseboy/property manager Ryan was a cracked out mess who is clearly falling down on his job a bit. We figure he took the cleaning deposit and decided to buy crystal or ecstasy with it instead. But, I was thinking that this is how groups come to know the island, and over time get better at picking out a place to stay and making sure that it meets all of their expectations. That said, the group of guys seems very nice and we had a fantastic dinner together last night of lasagna, caesar salad and tiramisu (guess who made that). Before that we went to one of the daily tea dances and said hi to our fellow vacationers. Today we will go to the beach and walk around a bit exploring.
…there is fire. A whole island of it in this case. Since I have been killing myself with work the past month, I decided to take a much needed little vacation of a few days on Fire Island. As luck would have it, my friend Barrett was going in with a group of friends on a week share and the price was right so I jumped at it. I am really looking forward to the experience of getting to know a group of guys and hanging out with them for a relaxing few days. I only ever spent one day on Fire Island (last year with Josh), so it will be nice to get more of the full experience. I will leave early tomorrow morning and be back sometime next week. What internet access I have will be a little uncertain, so not sure how much I will be posting. This break couldn’t come at a better time, though. I had my first work-stress dream in years this week, THAT is how much I have been working.
Josh are I are leaving in a few hours to fly to San Juan (via one hour layover in Miami). At least, we hope we are going. There was a bit of a snowstorm last night, but things looks pretty clear now. It is 84 and sunny in San Juan right now. We will be there for 10 glorious days, exploring the main island and Vieques and soaking up the sun and beach and old new world charm of San Juan.
After a surprisingly quick seeming 13 hour car ride, we are back in Indianapolis. It was interesting being in South Carolina for the first time in about 15 years. My experience living (mostly) in California since that time has sharpened by far my impressions of South Carolina. Perhaps it is just that I am older now and more sensitive to it, or perhaps it was my greater interest in history and culture, but what stood out for me in much greater relief than ever before was the relation of slavery to this part of the US. It was everywhere. In the Rice Museum in Georgetown and the words of the docent taking us around; in the townhouses and mansions of Charelston; In the gardens of Brookgreen and its Lowcountry Museum; in the statues honoring people like Strom Thurmond at the statehouse; in the words spoken by some of the residents. One realizes how much whatever wealth this part of the world once had, it was based on the ill gotten gains of slave labor. It is a past that the people here would rather forget, and yet they are bathed in its incidents every day. And unfortunately, these stains fade slowly, as evidenced by the subtle play of languange in the people of the area and in the attitudes of some. After living all those years in California, I was definitely aware of race and racism within the culture, but of a more multicultural kind. It was never so obviously about a binary white/black division. Not true in South Carolina. Sure, this trip was as much about a vacation at the beach, appreciating nothing more (or less) than the beauty of the natural environment and having a great time with my family. But it was also a valuable reminder of the original sin that formed a large part of the identity of this nation, and an entreaty to move forward and heal the wounds that are still not quite closed.
On vacation with the family in South Carolina, whose current climate reminds me a lot of southern India. It is really hot and humid here, much more so than I remember from my childhood trips here so many years ago. The other thing that I realize is that, as great as it is to be with my family, I am just not a huge fan of hanging out on a hot and sweaty beach getting bronzed. Also, something about the weather makes me eat much more than I normally would (and something about SC makes me eat more unhealthily) and I am feeling a little portly. I will probably try to take a cultural excursion tomorrow with a trip to nearby Charleston. Still, if you care to see the family album (with several pics of my adorable niece and nephew) click here.
Tomorrow morning at about 6am, I will depart with my family via car for a 12 hour trip to the beach in South Carolina, where we will be for the next week. Expect lots of stories about sunburn, fried fish, southern culture, the ocean, and of course hushpuppies.