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Wandering Souls

“Why am I gazing at this campfire like a lost soul seeking a hope when all that I love is at my wingtips? Because I am curious. Because I am incorrigibly, now, a wanderer.” – Beryl Markham, West With The Night

Doesn’t it feel a bit like the world is about to explode into an orgy of mad travel and celebration? We’ve already seen misguided souls partying like it’s 1999 in maskless rebellion, imagine when the adults in the room assess the situation and determine that we’ve reached a tipping point with vaccinations and – dare I say it? Herd immunity. Of course, the common cold and influenza will each dance a happy dance. This pandemic hit them hard too. But we’ve danced with each plenty of times, right? Still, we all talk a good game, but what happens when someone sneezes without covering their mouth in a crowded space? Are we ready for that moment?

Passport stamps stopped abruptly in 2019. A lost year for ink pads and border agents and wandering souls alike. I’d like to get another stamp or two in the passport before it expires. Before I expire. To hear the thrill of rubber stamp meeting paper once again! It’s tantalizingly close now, isn’t it?

Where do you go when the borders open up? Does the list of places you’d built up over your lifetime just resume now, or did all of this open your eyes to new possibilities? Do crowded streets in Venice carry the same appeal yet? Will remote beaches and quiet mountaintops still draw you the way they always have or have you had enough isolation? Just how much has this pandemic changed us in ways unseen?

I don’t have the answers, of course. But I know that I’m a wanderer myself. I have places to go in this world, places to meet people (like you!) in solidarity and celebration. For life is out there as much as it’s in… here. And like you I’m about ready to get out there and mingle with kindred spirits in faraway places.

We aren’t there just yet, but we must get ready, mustn’t we? Mastering phrases like Excuse me, where is the restroom? and Where can we get the best tapas and Sangria? and Do you know the way to San Jose? and of course, Cheers! To break language barriers we must meet the locals more than halfway.

And then there’s our fitness level. Let’s face it, there’s been way too much Zoom and sitting around in close proximity to the pantry for our own good. We must get fit and toned for those long climbs up ancient steps, those walks through ripening vineyards, or simply those forever walks through international airports. The world is waiting for you, will you be ready when it opens up?

Tonight, with the temperatures moderating just enough for respectable conversation, I’m going to light a crackling fire outside and inevitably be drawn into the embers as the night progresses. We may contemplate the changes of the last year, but we’ll also scheme about the future. It’s out there, waiting for us. Should we be ready to wander once again. Etes-vous prets?

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