I find it a little bit weirdly interesting how little it takes to make me want to go places. I’m reading a book right now that is probably one of the most ethereally bizarre things I’ve ever read. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but out of the ghosts and the familial issues and loss and exploration the most overwhelming feeling I have is to fly to London and explore Highgate Cemetery. Observe:
I mean… come on, right? That’s pretty damn amazing.
I’ve been to London three times. And while there is only a certain amount of how well one is going to get to know a place while touristing around for a couple of weeks I feel like I have seen a good amount of the city. And yet, I am always finding new things I’d like to see. I am aware that I watch and read far too many things that take place in England but basically at this point I would like to explore the country so thoroughly that I don’t think my bank account would ever recover from the expense of it all.
I’ve been to Paris twice and never made it to the catacombs. Never seen the Bois de Boulogne or the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. Never even visited Edith Piaf or Jim Morrison at Pere Lachaise. I want to go to Giverny and Mont Saint-Michel.
I’ve never been itching to see Spain, but I want to go to Barcelona. I want to see buildings designed by Gaudi. Walk in the Park Güell, stand in front of the Sagrada Família in amazement and wonder if it will ever truly be finished. I want to go to the Theatre-Museum Dali in Figueres and smile at the Mae West room and at all the little bits of Gala dropped into all the artist’s work.
I want to stand in the snow, wearing a parka I’d never actually wear and drinking hot cocoa while I watch the flickering Aurora Borealis.
Most recently I have become somewhat obsessed with going to Switzerland. I wrote a play once where the father of the two main characters goes to Geneva. Of course, at the time, I knew nothing about the city at the time, and it’s not like I’ve been there now, but I think it’s sort of an anomalous city, like the Philadelphia of Switzerland. It’s a very French city in a country primarily associated with Germanic ideals. And it’s pretty, with it’s gigantic lake and shooting fountain and Parisian looking buildings that are sort of beautifully soft around the edges. Zürich is the highest ranked city for quality of life. Probably because it’s taxes are enormously high as it’s also one of the most expensive cities in the world. It’s far more spiry, more German, more quaint.
And, similarly, Austria. Vienna, yes. Salzberg (Sound of Music!), yes. But, beyond that I want to go to Hallstatt. This completely random town in the middle of nowhere Austria that I just happened to have seen on Rick Steves. And it’s because it’s so random and so in the middle of nowhere that makes it’s so incredibly beautiful.
It’s a small place with a population of just one thousand people and you have to take a ferry from the train station. The whole thing is sort of packed onto the edge of the lake by the mountains crowding it from behind. Above it is the salt mine that used to be the European center for collecting salt, a whole period is called ‘the Hallstatt period’. It’s hardly surprising, I suppose, as it’s only about two hours from Salzberg. Okay… so none of this is anything that you couldn’t read on the Wikipedia link included under the picture, but I have nothing real to add, as I have not been there. Sigh, I am so put upon. Someday.
I lived in Mansfield, Ohio for one school year. It wasn’t something I was entirely looking forward to, more just a means to the Columbus campus, which was at least a decently sized city even if it is still in Ohio. I remember auditioning for schools (I had intended upon being a theatre major and had to audition for a space) and looking around to make sure that I wasn’t going to be languishing boredly in some small town with nothing to do. Mansfield was sort of like a last resort, I went there one time before I moved and I didn’t do much more than visit the tiny campus and drive around town a bit. I didn’t really care what it was like because I wasn’t going to like it and it only going to be ten months of my life.
For the first few months it wasn’t too great. I didn’t have a car, which proved problematic as there’s really no way to get around Mansfield without a car. Once I rode my bike to Meijer and carried groceries back in my basket. It took nearly an hour to get there and I could only fit orange juice, milk, bread, and eggs. I was shy so I didn’t have many friends, and I couldn’t get to the video store so I bought every movie I wanted to watch from amazon.com and had it delivered. But then I got a car and I drove all over the city, I drove to the surrounding towns, explored the country side, explored every nook and cranny. Residential areas, manufacturing areas, everything. And slowly I started to really sort of like living in Mansfield, OH.
When my best friend K and I took our trek across the country (Cleveland, to Memphis, to New Orleans, to Dallas, across Texas to Carlsbad Caverns in NM, to Las Vegas, to LA, to Santa Barbara, to Big Sur, to San Francisco, to Denver, to Mt. Rushmore, to Chicago, then back to Cleveland) we happened upon a town called Orla, Texas. I might be applicating the word ‘town’ a bit liberally here, actually. It was more like a crossroads with a couples buildings placed on it. Well, there were a couple of abandoned, crumbling buildings as well. The only reason it came to our attention at all was the fact that it happened to have a post office. Now what the hell it needed a post office for is beyond me, maybe for a couple of neighboring ranches or something… I suppose everyone needs a post office but it probably cost more to construct the building and move government employees in than they got throughout the year by selling postage. Actually, now that I think about it the post office might’ve been the entire town because when we went inside to buy stamps and mail our postcards back home we couldn’t help but notice a white board scrawled with ‘Population: 4’. The best we could figure was that it was written on the whiteboard just in case anyone went out of town.
It was dusty and I sort of expected a tumbleweed to go rolling by at any minute but I was glad to have seen Orla, TX.
There are too many places in the world. Too many countries and too much towns and cities and far too little time. I say a lot that I don’t plan on staying in Cleveland, and that’s true. But, I don’t want to move away from Cleveland for any sort of reason against the city itself, I like it here. The reason simply is this; I’ve already lived here.
I find myself driving back to Mansfield sometimes. Not in the past year, as it’s less convenient. I would go from Columbus, drive the hour and shop at places I used to shop, drive down streets I remember. Check out the apartment complex where I first lived on my own. I don’t forget any of it and what’s more I miss it, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to move forward and see other things.
There’s nothing wrong with being tethered to one place, I find that as I grow older I understand that better and better, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to see the rest of the world.