My maternal grandfather had a wanderlust and a curiosity that he shared with me from the time I was a toddler. He’d sit me on his knee and show me pictures and read to me from National Geographic and the World Book Encyclopedia. In his 80s, he proudly told me that he had seen every river in the United States, many more than once.
My grandparents were far from rich. They didn’t fly from one destination to another. They saw the country in a way few of us do these days: they drove thousands of miles, staying in campgrounds along the way. I’m sure my grandmother got tired of it, but my grandfather never did.
I inherited that wanderlust from my grandfather. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to travel most of my adult life, seeing a great deal more of the world than he ever did. And for the past year, I’ve created a life out of my wandering: I’ve lived in the spare rooms of friends and family (thank you all), in a dorm, and in a cottage under a lush and bountiful mango tree. I’ve enjoyed fall in New Hampshire, snow in Virginia, and sunset in Key West. I’ve been blessed to meet incredibly interesting and diverse people, and to learn about kayaking and poetry and art and gravestone carving. I’ve heard Steve Almond read in a Meeting House in a tiny town in New England, read my own work in a coffee shop in the Village, and taken a boat out off the New England coast to see Smuttynose Island, the setting for Anita Shreve’s novel The Weight of Water.
As readers and writers, we don’t have to travel to Vietnam to know the horrors of war. We don’t have to travel to Paris to feel the artistic energy that pulsed through the city in the 20s. Writers are all wanderers, if not in reality, then at least in our imaginations. But I know that my writing is richer because of the places I’ve been, and the people I’ve met along the way. To those people, thank you for touching my life (and for giving me some great material). To my grandfather, thank you for taking the time to read to me and tell me stories of far away magical places. Having a great time . Wish you were here.