Monday, June 20, 2011


It is finally summer, which means two things for a teacher: time to read and time to travel. They often go hand in hand.  I go for 10 months of the year feeling like I am running interval sprints during a long-distance run, leaving me with very little, if any time to read for pleasure.  The first few days of summer vacation (after inservice) I picked up some magazines that I hadn't had time to read during the mad dash to the finish line of the school year.

June's Vogue with Penelope Cruz on the cover (who is a favorite actress of mine for a few of her roles in Almodovar's films) had a thought-provoking letter from the editor entitled Point of Departure. Editor Anna Wintour elaborates on a Henry Miller phrase, "One's destination is never a place rather a new of looking at things," to go as far as saying, "travel allows us the pleasure of becoming someone else, even if only for the duration of that trip." While sitting at my kitchen table her comment struck me. Ten years ago I dreamed of traveling all the time, of working simply so I could travel.  I think based on Ms. Wintour's premise, by traveling and trying out different personas in these new places at that time in my life I was really seeking out the person that I felt most comfortable being.

 I think through my past travels I have found my happy medium between shy and outgoing, wallflower and adventurer. I can't say that there are many trips I regret. I got something out of all of them, even if they were negative experiences like bad accommodations or company. I learned how to be a better judge of people by eliminating all of the biases I hold in my own sphere and by being brave (and sometimes naive) enough to get to know new people in a foreign land. But in the end I came home.

I can't help but wonder if wanderlust isn't somehow tied to our own insecurities (or if the term "tripping" in relation to mind-altering experiences has more to do with traveling than falling down, but I digress...) When I am traipsing around the globe I can be the life of the party, beach bum, explorer, adventurer, writer, missionary, etc., and play these roles to their fullest extent a'la Penelope Cruz. I think about my little Kindergartners who take little trips around the school whenever they get the chance. EVERYONE wants to take the library books back and take the folder to the office. When I am at home, I have to be content with who I am and my present circumstances.  Sitting at my kitchen table, with suitcases empty in a closet, I feel like I have finally settled into a "moment" in my life of contentedness. I think perhaps for the first time in my adult life I feel content with where I am, what I have, and where my life is going.

A few weeks back my friend asked me what my dreams were for the future.  I can't say that right now I am yearning too deeply for anything.  I plan on finishing my masters degree, paying off debt, starting my son in school when he's ready, and yes, I'd love to travel again when the time is right, exploring the space between my ears by venturing somewhere 30,000 feet in the stratosphere, but right now I don't feel the urge as I did before.

This summer I have decided that my travels will be close to home, getting to know Wisconsin and the midwest, the land and the people that have largely made me who I am. I think, if Ms. Wintour's perceptions are right, I can be myself and explore this contented moment of my life a little more deeply.

This weekend I was lucky enough to take a day trip up to Door County and Washington Island.  There are so many beautiful places in that peninsula let alone in the entire state.
School House Beach on Washington Island has no sand, only pummeled, polished white stones.
Even on a rocky beach with no sand, these feet are happy where they stand.
Now that I am back home after a short trip,  I am opening that Vogue magazine to read the article featuring Penelope Cruz in this month's vogue entitled The Dream Life of Penelope. She is a new mom, a successful actress and living her dream-life in this moment too. I close the magazine and go to bed, beyond happy to be living the life I never dreamed of.

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