When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked. Four hoarse blasts of a ships’s whistle still raise the hair on my neck and set my feet to tapping. The sound of a jet, an engine warming up, even the clopping of shod hooves on pavement brings on the ancient shudder, the dry mouth and vacant eye, the hot palms and the churn of stomach high up under the rib cage… In other words, once a bum always a bum. I fear this disease incurable.
– John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley
I’m not sure when it started. It was definitely cemented by six months in the subcontinent at eighteen, and was fatally sustained on other trips along the way. But while the wanderlust is now beyond help, life goes on: home, work, routine, seasons changing in familiar places. Roots. And that’s ok too, most of the time.
In September 2012 we ran away from grown up London life for a while to pad around India and South America: to revisit some favourites and find new corners, to go wandering, find cool stuff, hike, eat, drink, camp and check out life lived elsewhere, home on our backs. Here’s the stories for the curious. And as with previous trips, a year or so later part of me is still at that final stop. A bit worn out in Vancouver, looking forward to a return – but not quite done, feet still tapping.
So: home and wanderlust, the novel and the familiar, hoarding and the urge to pack light, the itch to write and fear of the blank page, a clean green tea and a dirty martini.
This is my new notepad dedicated to things ‘elsewhere’, at home and abroad. For anyone, like me, who gets itchy feet even on the road and always needs at least three trips in the pipeline. Who owns two well-worn pair of slippers but needs to keep the journey going.