A few months ago, I was reading The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente*. In this captivating fairy tale, a young girl from Nebraska named September finds herself whisked away to Fairyland by the Green Wind and his Leopard. At one point in the story, after eating fairy fruit with her new friend Ell (who is a cross between a wyvern and a library), September squints up at the sun and wonders if it is different from the sun in Nebraska. What follows is one of the best travel quotes I’ve read in awhile:
It [the sun] seemed gentler, more golden, deeper. The shadows it cast seemed more profound. But September could not be sure. When one is traveling, everything looks brighter and lovelier. That does not mean it is brighter and lovelier; it just means that sweet, kindly home suffers in comparison to tarted-up foreign places with all their jewels on. (p. 43)
My own travel experiences are often just like this – especially if I fly somewhere. I am transported from my well-worn life and, in a few short hours, deposited into a completely new someplace. Time feels different. My senses are keener. My memory is sharper. The smallest details about the new place become vividly etched in my memory. Everything is electrified by newness and novelty. This super-real, sensually vibrant quality is one of the many reasons travel is so addictive for me.
In just a few days, I’ll be tagging along with my husband as he heads to San Diego** to attend a summer school for medical physicists at the University of California. While he is learning about image quality and dosing considerations for digital imaging modalities in medicine (very big yawn!), I’ll be exploring La Jolla, the greater San Diego area, and as much of the natural environment around there as I possibly can. I’m not exaggerating when I say that anticipation for this little expedition has been sweetening my life for months.
I do understand that San Diego is neither a Fairyland nor some tarted-up foreign jewel. Unfotunately, I won’t be doing my sight-seeing on a dragon-like creature, either. Even so, San Diego is a beautiful area of the country and I have a feeling the sun will look and feel different out there on the Pacific Coast. I’m also pretty sure that while I’m flitting about in a regular old car taking in the sights, everything will seem brighter and lovelier. As proof, I’ll be taking lots of photos. Hopefully, my adventures will be worthy of Show and Tell here at Wandrin’ Round. Stay tuned!
* If you love fairy tales and travel adventures, this is a fabulous book. The author, Ms. Valente, creates a lush and mesmerizing world that is a delight to discover.
** San Diego is #9 on tripadvisor.com’s 25 Best Destinations in the United States as well as Top 10 Beach Destinations in the United States for the Traveler’s Choice Awards 2012. (Thank goodness for summer school – that’s all I have to say.)