June 29, 2014, Boston- The writer, Froma Harrop, in discussing the need for balance between travel and homing, mentions the Shakespearean character, Jaque, from As You Like It, as having bemoaned his own constant travel. She muses about seniors, who give up everything binding, and make perpetual travel their endgame.
I have been tempted, now and then, to engage in just such an endeavour. There are, in fact, a few years in the offing when my travel will be of a long-term nature. The first such will be 2017, in fact. Nevertheless, my meanderings are always going to be rooted in purpose. This past June’s journey had three themes: Seeing the ancestral home town of my father’s paternal lineage (Rouen); paying respects to my late father-in-law and other veterans of the two World Wars (Normandy, Brest, Amiens, Bastogne, Metz and Berga); and connecting with my fellow Baha’is (Paris, Rouen, Brussels, Luxembourg, Strasbourg and Frankfurt). Of course, there were cultural stops, fun restaurants and parks, great architecture and wonderful, captivating people in the mix. These, I find everywhere, though, and they may be found in abundance, right here in Prescott. My Baha’i friends are my tap root, and will remain so, regardless of how often I am in and out of town. A dozen or so others are my branch roots, also keeping me focused.
Let me get back to the journey. The flight back from Frankfurt was smooth as silk. I was in the delightful company of a young baker, from Frankfurt to Montreal. She had many stories of her own travel, across France and Germany, from Paris to Berlin, with Frankfurt as base camp, and as a vegan. Taking a night bus from Berlin to Frankfurt sounded a bit rough; but there she was, happy and fully in the moment. I have kept in contact with her, in the months since, and wish her a long and happy series of life experiences, as I do with all I met, east of the Atlantic.
There are those I will see again, and those whose lives will probably not intersect again with mine. There are the people with whom I experienced mutual joy and there are folks who saw me stumbling about, now and then, and threw up their hands in exasperation. There were times of great exhilaration, quiet reverence, stern admonition- both given and received, physical and emotional near-exhaustion, and momentary confusion. It was all worthwhile.
So, here’s to you: The gate keepers and window clerks at each train and bus station; the desk clerks and maids at each of my hotels; the seat mates on trains and buses; the taxi drivers in the areas of Mont Saint-Michel and Carnac; my friends in the standage on the train from Rennes to Paris, all the restaurateurs who served me so graciously, from the brasseries and kebab shops to the high-end New Colours, of Luxembourg and Leo’s, of Bastogne; the people manning the natural and historical sites; the performance artists and street musicians; the scammers and the schemers, who got precious little, if anything, from me; the people who earnestly tried to help me, even when I was in a momentary state of suspicion; the lovers whose space I may have momentarily crowded; the police who kept us safe, without resorting to brute force; the grand musicians at Luxembourg’s National Day; the young folks whose energy and antics were invariably heart-warming; and, most of all, my brothers and sisters in faith, who were anchors throughout. All of you made this, my fledgling solo voyage abroad, a memorable and reaffirming occasion.
So, I’ve been back in the home ground that is North America, since the date above. There was a revelation, though: Europe is also my home. The rest of the world will be, as time goes on. I can go from home, to home, to home, as the circumstances of this wonderful life lead me. Prescott is like my room, Arizona, my domicile and North America, my neighbourhood. Home, though, is where the heart lives, and my heart is with all of you.