Monday, April 30, 2007


The arrival of spring is making our cat crazy. She runs around the house, begging to be let out, speaking in tongues, and generally being a pest. Once I take her out, she wants to go somewhere beyond the backyard. She's not too clear on the details, and much of her quest involves standing in front of objects that are too large for her to jump up to, such as trees and fences, whining for them to pick her up.

Part of the problem is that our neighborhood is infested with cats that are much larger than she is, and so we are not comfortable with the idea of Lola roaming around freely. There are some huge, feral cats in the area, and she has no front claws, not to mention the fact that she hasn't the slightest sense of how tiny she is. Anyway, you can see why we want to be there if she goes outside.

Her wanderlust is insatiable though. She is enchanted by nearly everything in the world. Pieces of junk mail fascinate her with their strange smells. Gobs of lint fascinate her because they fly in all directions when she pucks them. Rolling in the sunlight is rapturous for her. Like all cats, she is a node in a scent and sound network that we can hardly sense. The world is transmitting a vast array of information to her at all times. Unfortunately, however, she still hasn't figured out that trees can't hear her whining.

I know how she feels though. I'm ready to wander wherever I will; but I have to finish my exam readings right now. I've always had a certain wanderlust because things around me have always struck me as trite or temporary. I remember, when I was a teenager, I couldn't wait to get out of the house and live on my own. I moved out about a week after my high school graduation, got a room and a job, and started saving money to travel. Finally, I got enough for a Greyhound ticket to San Francisco and rode out there to spend a summer couch surfing and wandering around. I remember meeting a lot of people, playing golf in the street with a young man who taught me the importance of the word 'ludic', watching a marathon of biker movies with an audience of bikers, reading smut at an open-mic poetry night, sleeping in the forest, witnessing a shooting, and wandering dazed through a near-riot after the Superbowl.

I did a lot of wandering after that, probably culminating in my moving to Canada and getting married. We've done a lot of wandering since then. Currently, we have mason jars where we stick money for future trips. One is marked 'India', another is for Ireland, and a third, I think, is for Alberta. I think we'll spend our lives wandering.

Travel is the best-way to avoid small town depression and it keeps you from taking anything too seriously. It disorients you and makes it possible to think in new and unique ways. Spending all of your time in one place makes you worry about things that are very small and petty. Travelling allows you to wonder about things that are very vague and big. I understand Lola's wanderlust- I feel it too.


claire said...

lola kicks ass. that's really all there is to it.


Rufus said...

I just love the picture. 'My name is Lola, and I approved this message. Vote cat.'

gregvw said...

I want to do more exploring too, but I am somewhat intimidated by the idea of going places that I don't speak any of the language. I do, however, intend to learn more languages once my German is adequate.

Hiromi said...

eeeee! kitty!

I hear you. I've felt stifled since moving back to Texas. In Japan, I could just take the train and bus wherever. It's of course a smaller country, but it also has better transport. And it was easy to get from there to the rest of Asia. I miss SE Asia a lot.

It *is* intimidating to go somewhere alien, but it's amazing, too. It also takes an ability to not take yourself seriously, something Rufus alluded to. You're going to make an ass of yourself time and again, but *it's okay*. That was a big lesson for me, that I can fuck up and things can still be okay.

I remember chartering a boat and going out on a lake in Cambodia to visit a village built on stilts. During the yearly flood, the stilts are submerged and they travel by boat. During the dry season, they use the space beneath their houses for storage, livestock, drying fish, whatever. It was a jarring experience, being somewhere totally removed from my usual life. It made me want something beyond my usual life. I want to be taken out of myself.

claire said...

dude i thought we were saving for iceland and india? no? when did ireland come into it? been there, not that i wouldn't totally go back...


Rufus said...

Hiromi- Yes, and even if you fuck up, it usually makes for a good story. I think it's generally easier to get around most places outside of North America. I remember several times living in towns where the layout was such that you couldn't really wander around anywhere without looking shady. It's actually one of the things that I hate about most suburbs. I remember Texas being just beautiful, but very flat. It was the first time I had ever seen so far into the horizon. It reminded me of Dali. Do you have any scenery photos?

Greg, I would suggest at least travelling around the continent. Most places require only a minimal amount of language skills, and the big cities are full of English-speakers.

Incidentally, I very much enjoy the weekly progress reports that you and Holly send out. May I cut and paste them here?

Rufus said...

claire- I guess we should go to Iceland first. I would like to see Ireland though because everyone raves about it.

Hiromi said...

No, no photos of Texas. It'd be odd if I did -- I wouldn't want to keep around photos of a place I'm dying to leave! It'd be like having a poster of your prison on your cell wall.

I find the flatness in north Texas to be absolutely disturbing. Dallas is merely flat, but Lubbock is flat and utterly treeless. I like the piney woods around Houston, but aside from Houston, east Texas is scary for us minorities. West Texas and South Texas are interesting, but I'm not a desert/scrub sort of person. Anyway, at least I'm in the best possible place. Austin is nice. Although that is changing.

Sorry to sound so negative.

gregvw said...

RF: sure you can put any of that here that you like. I'm too lazy to do it myself.

We are going to see more of Austria and Germany this year and probably spend some time in Italy since I know a little bit of Italian. Then next year, probably France and any other place that I have at least learned some fundamental polite words for.

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