Sunday, November 7, 2010

Where Will I Be Next?

This is it! My final hostel stay. The last breakfast of stale bread and instant coffee. No more scrambles to find lodging while carrying my much too heavy bag of stuff. An end to endless freedom - of obligations and destination.

I´ve spent the last five days in Barcelona following a month long tour of Spain. Keeping to my longtime policy of not designating favorites it will suffice to say that Spain has been a highlight of my travels in all respects. I managed a fairly broad sampling of locations while here and even made it to Portugal for a spell. I also spent some time up in the mountains, away from the gr of cities. I did not improve upon my meager Spanish language skills, which was a goal I had set. I guess being a tourist doesn´t force you to rely on the native tongue enough to absorb more of it, and five weeks is certainly not enough time. I was able to experience culinary immersion, though. I attacked the native cuisine of Spain with vim and vigor reminiscent of my time spent in Chaing Mai. I drank vermouth and Basque cider for breakfast simply to get the complimentary tapas, while bouncing from barrio to barrio in the bustle of Spanish night for just one more beer and one last morsel to remember my time here by.

As I lamented in the past, even after all I´ve seen I can barely feel as though I have scratched the surface of what Spain has to offer, what the world has to offer. Options abound when there are endless eateries as well as market stalls to choose from. I was forced to parse out my time in each location by when I would walk the streets in search of sustenance and when I would ransack the markets to enjoy cooking from the local offerings. Do I try something new, or go back for more of an established show stopper? These are the dilemmas I face daily. And a week from now when I fly from London back to the United States and begin the life of responsibility anew, I´ll be faced with the same sort of dilemmas. I´m faced with myriad decisions of where to live, who to live with, where to work and what trajectory I want to set myself on. Where do I want to go from here? It´s how I´ve lived my life for the past eight months, in essence. Each day deciding where the next place to visit will be. Sometimes planning, often times not. There are so many options. Too many options. A world of options, if you will.

Life a phrase people toss around when I discuss my decision to put things on hold and travel for the better part of a year. Life affirming is more appropriate, I would say. For instance, I have affirmed that never will I be adept at figuring out here I am on a map or finding my way to any location. (Thanks Dad!) I get lost on foot and in cars. I get lost even with a compass and a map to help me. I get lost in museums. I´ve affirmed that I have no particular allegiance or passion for one type of culinary style. The discovery of something new and the revisiting of something old is what moves me, no matter what it is or where it´s from. I love it all, relish it all. I´ve also affirmed that there is no easy answer to the question, ¨where am I going next?¨ First hand experience is the only way for me to work things out. Jump on that next train or walk down the next alley, and see what happens.

I suppose that is why I have chosen, for the moment at least, to take up lodging in New York City in the near future. Well, there so many reasons, to be honest. But, it occurred to me that I´ve never found one place I like more than all others. No place whether lived in or visited that I want to call home for the rest of my life. Having seen so many different places over the prior eight months I have affirmed that there is no such city, town, village or hamlet....for me at least. I figured then, New York has variety, opportunity and intrigue on a scale that most other cities don´t. Options. It seems to me the ideal place for people who can´t decide. Don´t want to decide.

So the short answer to where I will be next, is NYC...back on the East Coast, grinding it out with everyone else. I´m not fond of short answers though, but I´ll spare you the minutiae and leave it at that...