Oh how I miss travel. (Did I just say that twice?)
I miss finding out about a new destination whose church spires or lattes or mountains inspire me from one picture and lead to endless hours of Google search, Instagram posts, videos from Rick Steves or a friend on Facebook, pictures of dinners and cafés and museum tours, or even a guidebook borrowed from the library with the occasional dog eared page beckoning something noteworthy.
I miss sitting in cafes outside the United States, thinking about what I would do that day. Or the next. Or the next. All the while sipping on a coffee and pastry, made with loving care and attention, like this one from Hong Kong.
I miss getting on a long flight – maybe several – just to get to my destination. Sometimes I’d fly up front on on the top level. Other times I’d tough it out in coach like everyone else does.
I miss the lousy airplane food. I miss the fancy business class meals and wines.
I miss hearing languages that perplex and fascinate.
I miss getting to tell people about who I am, where I am going, or what I am looking for in the language of the country I am in. And hopefully hearing back something intelligible or welcoming.
I miss telling people I am from the United States and having people praise Obama or still hang onto some semblance of American identity as not being a shameful identity tied to anti-minority, anti-immigrant, anti-science leadership.
I miss wandering in foreign cities for hours until my feet hurt, having seen all of one side of a city and hoping my legs wouldn’t give out before I saw the other side.
I miss getting on buses or trains or subway cars with my luggage and feeling like an awkward idiot because we didn’t live there or know the transportation systems inside out.
I miss seeing tango on the streets of Buenos Aires. I miss hawkers on the streets of Siem Reap asking me if I want a fish massage. I miss the Chinese taxi driver who once told me how good my Chinese was and then asked me what part of Korea I was from (I am Chinese American). (facepalm)
I miss knowing that I could see my friends in London, Singapore, Hong Kong, São Paulo, or Nairobi – and that the date when I could see them was not totally up in the air.
I miss the long days of virtually unending sunshine in Oslo.
I miss the experience of handing my boarding card to an airline employee at Heathrow while I was trying to board a flight from London to Chicago, watching her tear up my card, and then smile as she told me I was upgraded to business class.
I miss getting stuck in Dallas on the way to Morocco, knowing one delayed connection would result in a second, which was going to reroute us from London to Madrid, and then potentially put our flight into Marrakech at risk.
I miss the home cooked meals I got at casas particulares in Cuba, whether it was moros y cristianos or fresh sliced fruit or even just toast.
I miss the scowls of stressed airline employees, the smiles of local merchants, the surliness of a restaurant owner, and the unrestrained joy in the eyes and sounds of the local children.
I miss the chance to get to the front of a ticket line in Paris and effect a fake British accent because I didn’t know how else to answer her question (since I don’t speak French).
I miss sitting in a bar in Prague having what my wife describes as the best martini of her life (Monkey 42 gin).
I miss smoking cigars and drinking scotch with my wife at 2 in the morning in Manhattan.
I miss the blue shimmer of the waters off Santorini and the taste of the salty water upon walking into the ocean for a mid-day swim.
I miss the sights of one of many of our friends’ weddings in locations like Honduras, Seattle, Raleigh, and Greece.
Basically…I miss it all. The good. The bad. The ugly. The delays. The “you’ve been upgraded” rare events. The “we’re looking for volunteers” announcement followed by my sprinting to the gate (and in the process knocking over the grandmother and the infant and the man in crutches, just to get my $500 voucher for more travel).
I look forward to the day when we can travel again and my heart, mind, and soul can continue growing again.