4.13.2011

Tourist

I don't know whether it's my ambiguous ethnicity or dumb luck, but I seem to attract girls who love studying abroad. They're all obsessed with being in a country that isn't this one.  I love a good accent as much as the next guy, but I'm not sure I'll ever understand the desire. Give or take a monument, most places are exactly the same.

When I get on a plane it's because there is something concrete on the other side of the airport that I need to be a part of. I've flown to NYC to see Man... Or Astro-Man? do two nights in the village. I've made the trek to see Dostoyevsky's Notes from Underground and Aaron Sorkin's Farnsworth Invention on Broadway. I'd have traveled to Sioux City, Iowa if that's where MOAM was playing. NYC was not the destination, but the backdrop. I'd rather be at the mall with my best friend, Tim, than in Paris alone. He took a trip to Prague a few years back. People asked if he was excited to be in Europe to which he replied, "I'm going to visit the girl I love. If she was in Burma, that's where I'd be."

Traveling isn't supernatural. If you haven't found yourself in your city, and you're bored with who you are in it, you're going to be bored on another continent. I got a crystal ball. Let's check out your itinerary. You're going to eat shitty food because you don't know better, poke around the Nerf parts of the city, and get ripped off by a taxi driver.

Having grown up in a city abused by tourists and spent a fair portion of my life touring, traveling has lost all romance for me. I've been to every state except Alaska, and few different countries as well. I've been both host and parasite. Tourists treat cities like hotel rooms. They jump on the beds and steal shampoo. Like an anonymous forum posters, they feel safe knowing that they'll never have to face the consequences of their actions.

I'm all for finding yourself and discovering what you're made of. Save yourself, or more likely your parents, some money and sit in a comfy chair. Put your hands on your legs and spend a couple hours thinking about your life. Who do you want be? Who are you already? Are you running toward or away from something? That's what Tim used to ask.

Good friends. Adventures. I'm in favor of these things. Find things you love and chase them to the ends of the Earth. Don't go to the ends of the Earth hoping to find things to love.

*This post was inspired by the suggestion of "Traveling" by Tara Verderosa. If you'd like to make a suggestion for future posts, do so here.

14 comments :

  1. Traveling is what keeps me sane. I disagree about having the same experience in different places-you can't deny a change of scenery and how that impacts a person. And culture, Nick what about all the art to see in the world! I respect your stance for your own personal interest but I disagree with your instructions to others that traveling does not help you find yourself and is a waste of your/your parents (rude!) money. And tell your friend Tim that you can simultaneously run away from and to something. Reckless abandon births vulnerable and beautiful discoveries. Though, we have different relationships with chaos.

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  2. I agree with your opinion about tourism but none of the women in your life were tourists. There's a big difference between taking a vacation to "get away from it all" and seeking out new cultures and new people. Travel may not be your game but it's a noble venture nonetheless.

    #ignoranceoffends

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  3. I also want to point out that your statement about chasing the things you love vs. searching for the things you love to be in contradiction with the rest of the entry. How can one find the thing he or she loves while sitting in a chair? Search first, chase after. Exploration is key to discovery of passions, I think you mean to find something and stick with it? Rather than negating the curiosity to look in the first place? "Put your hands on your legs and spend a couple hours thinking about your life." this indicates absolutely no passion or curiosity for the world, humanity or even for yourself. I feel this contemplation is appropriate after travel...?

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  4. I had a feeling this one was going to be incendiary. I appreciate the feedback, everyone. Thanks for keeping me in check. Duly noted.

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  5. @Anonymous. When I call someone ignorant, I put my name next to it.

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  6. Don't you love that your words spark such passionate responses from your readers? It is what great writers do. It matters not so much what people think, but the fact that they continue to read your words and respond so passionately, means that you are doing a great job! PS I'm not the 6:30 PM above anonymous!

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  7. Nice little wave you started here with Tourist... well done.

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  8. The only long term travelling I've ever done is being on tour, which is undeniably the best and worst time of your life. I've noticed that when I'm at home, I can't stop fantasizing about going out on the road and having adventures, and when I'm on the road, I can't stop fantasizing about coming home and sleeping in my own bed. There's a lot of good and a lot of bad in travelling. I think Nick is more pissed that a lot of people in his life seem to think it's all good so he's taking the hardline stance that it's all bad, which is less true, but hey, honest, balanced, well thought out rational arguments never made anyone laugh or cry. So fuck 'em.

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  9. @Tim. Still translating for me, I see. Thanks, Buddy.

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  10. If everywhere is the same to you, give or take a monument, I suggest you spend less time looking at the monuments and more time talking to the people. Tourist traps are a dime a dozen wherever you are, sure, but if that's all you're looking for, that's all you'll walk away with.

    You don't need to be running to or from something to want to explore. :)

    -Amber

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  11. You are amazingly mundane. In all your posts.

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  12. @ Anonymous 6:25PM. I'm not sure how you're using "mundane." It either means my posts are grounded and real or unimaginative and boring, but thank you for your thoughts either way.

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