I'm sitting under the large, metal pavilion in a plastic chair alongside the kids. All of the other volunteers have left, so I'm alone -- as I have been the past two days. Mr. Patrick sits at the front of the room, reading a story about Moses. The kids, ranging from 5 to 18 years, listen intently as I panic about the time that ticks by on my watch. 5:27 p.m., it reads. Somehow, five weeks has dwindled down to three minutes, and I am not ready to leave.
It was the morning after France had beaten Croatia to win the 2018 World Cup. I sat on a plane at 8 a.m., preparing to land at Charles De Gaulle Airport. My mother, sister and I boarded a train, and in just a few stops, we were standing in the heart of Paris with our suitcases in hand.
When I was a kid, I read a book in which one of the characters had the ability to see into the past. If she concentrated, she could watch everything that had ever happened in a certain place. I've often wished I could have that power, but never more so than when strolling the steep narrow streets of Portugal.
If you look up Good Old Books online, you'll find that the Leland, Michigan, used and rare bookstore is only open from mid-May to mid-October. But if, on a cold winter afternoon, you walk up to a gray-blue, bi-level home with an "OLD, RARE BOOKS" sign posted in the yard, you'll find a note signed by George and Mary Ball.
The first time I visited Boston, I was dead-set on attending Northeastern University, and the universe seemed to be telling me this was a good idea. It was August, a balmy 80 degrees, and my assigned tour guide was, objectively, the hottest one (I say "objectively" because our group somehow ended up three times as big as everyone else's, and entirely female).
I debated back and forth for a couple of weeks about my spring break plans, but I eventually decided that being beachside was more favorable than snowed in. So, I traveled to Panama City Beach for a week of sunshine.
The gray and blue stone shoots out over the tops of the uniform orange shingles of Bruges' buildings. Equally beautiful, yet somehow out of place, St. Salvator's Cathedral towers over the carefully crafted, old-timey Bruges like a grandfather sitting next to a 20-year-old with full makeup, striving to look old enough to get into a bar. The authenticity sometimes missing in the tourist packed streets oozes off of the cathedral.
On October 1, 2017, the citizens of Catalonia voted to declare independence from Spain.
They say there are no stupid questions, just stupid answers. So the question, "why do we travel?" can't be dumb. However, (and I would bold, italicize and underline that word if possible) there are some answers that are so lacking in intelligence that I find myself staring into the void wondering where we went wrong.