Somewhere I presume over the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. Listening to Zeppelin’s “Going to California,” because I am.
Ah….traveling. This is what I need. Somehow the chaos centers me. The moment I walked into the airport, I somehow felt at peace, more with and more like myself. Just being there, walking in, bags in tow, seeing people scurrying this way and that, it makes me stop and think, “This is right.”
Folks keep asking me if I’ve decided what I’m going to do with my life. First family, now even friends are posing the question. The fact that I’m nearing 30, unmarried, unsettled, this does not bode well for most people. It is, in fact, strange and people perhaps have begun to wonder what is wrong with me. I sometimes wonder what is wrong with me. Then, in these instances when I feel most like myself, I am able to remember, I am able to articulate, “Nothing. This is me, and I love it.” Even those who have met me momentarily are able to see that this is what I need to be doing. I need to be out in the world, observing, processing, writing, ever in wonder of this vast and varied world. I miss this greatly about being in Korea-the mentality that one does not need to surrender to the great “American Dream” involving settling into dometicality and a single location. These two things are two of my greatest fears. I want to want them. Really, I do. But this, being out, traveling, wandering, exploring….this is who I am.
I meant to start writing immediately upon hitting 10,000 feet after departing Sioux Falls. My mind was already alive and churning madly with thoughts of the need for travel, being at home in travel, as well as a general political geeking out and further contemplating polarization. See, while awaiting my flight out of Sioux Falls, I stopped to fill up my water bottle from the fountain. I turned around to see a recognizable face, so when I did a double take by turning around again, I was shocked to see the very tall and rather tan Senator John Thune waiting behind me.
“Hi, how are you?” he asked.
“Hey!” I beamed cheerfully, totally politically crushing. “Good! How are you?” That was pretty much the extent of our conversation despite a host of other thoughts simultaneously careening through my head. Thoughts such as
Did you get my letter?
Do you need a staff writer?
Do you remember me from camp?
Can we talk about polarization?
I continued to dance around in line, due to the 12 ounces of caffeinated coffee I had just ingested, trying not to gawk at him. It was then that cemented the idea that I really do need to amass my writing on a professional website and print business cards for such a time as this. It would be so handy to be able to whip one out, hand it over, have its recipient pour over my writing and be completely taken aback by it and demand I write for them, while paying me a pretty fee no less.
But, alas, I did not have such life changing business cards. So I just got on the plane and immediately took out my notebook and began scribbling down all the thoughts I would soon be typing once electronic devices were permitted.
But those thoughts have been put aside until now, this second leg of the journey, the flight from Denver to Sacramento. Because as much as I like to put in my headphones, block out the world, and hammer out my inner thoughts on little black keys, I even more enjoy conversations with strangers on airplanes, particularly when they are with a young Catholic priest who wears combat boots and has the Dead Kennedy’s on his iphone.
As Tyler Durden was to the Narrator, Father Peter was “by far the most interesting single serving friend I’ve ever met.” Wearing his priestly collar, looking friendly and roughly my age, I struck up conversation even prior to take-off.
Rather than the basic, "Hello, where are you going today? " I just pointed to the collar. “Does that mean stimulating theological conversation throughout the flight?” I asked. He laughed and agreed that would be enjoyable.
After admitting a lack of intellectual theological conversation in my life as of late, mostly due to my lack of continued theological education, we dove right into the Pope. Hmm, perhaps that’s not the best choice of words given unfortunate light Catholic priests have cast upon them. As conversation does, it evolved from papal authority, to “calls” from God, to intellect and reason (or lack thereof) within the Faith, to books to be read, and music to be heard. Quality music this fellow enjoys, and band names were exchanged for each of us to check out. Hoorah, new music!
And in an intuitive manner that I’m not sure stems from seminary training or his personal nature, he pretty much pinpointed me as in need of constant travel, confirming that this need will not relent, but will need constant tending throughout my life. How right he is. We soon started to descend and it seemed to me the flight went too quickly. These sorts of instances with strangers are what draw me to this traveling thing. They are rare, precious, and to be cherished. “Don’t talk to strangers,” is great and necessary advice when one is a child, but should be a discarded mentality shortly thereafter.
It is when traveling that I most feel the blessings and I daresay even the presence of God poured out upon me. Someone call up Lonely Planet and tell them I need a job.