Southern Girls - Cheap Trick (mp3)
This Is My Home - The New Frontiers (mp3)
The more scientists dig into the fabric of our humanity, pulling apart our DNA like strings of Black Cat firecrackers, the more our raging individuality seems up for debate. Are we inclined to be fat? Are we fated to be left-handed? Are we born gay? Was my IQ severely limited before I even emerged from the womb? Do I love Cheap Trick because of the way my DNA forced my brain into shape, so that something in the sounds of Rick Nielson's guitars and Robin Zander's screechy vocals fits perfectly into this little craving in my ventral tegmental area like those little shapes in Perfection?
When reading about my partner's exploits in Korea, I wonder if I have a DNA malfunction. When I ventured out for the annual In-Law Family Beach Trip -- my 12th such experience to the same beach, in the same house -- I realized I might have a genetically inherited traveling disability.
Upon returning, I had that Trip-of-a-Lifetime afterglow, something slightly comparable to the glow that covers a virgin college student after getting laid that first time. I basked in that glow. I loved talking about my trip with people who were truly curious and fascinated about it.
But now? A year after the experience? Mostly I just think, Thank God I didn't have to pay for that. That trip was f*#kin' expensive.
How screwed up is that? It was the Trip of My Lifetime, fer Chrissakes. I must suffer from a wanderlust deficiency, the inability to truly appreciate escaping my humble surroundings and experiencing new places, new people, new worlds. That's the only explanation.
Dollar for dollar, I have more fun sleeping two to a bed with three other guys every year in New Orleans than I did blitzkrieging London and covering huge swaths of Kenya. Dollar for dollar, I enjoy my trips to Tunica, where I sit in one or two large rooms and play 12-14 hours of nonstop poker. Dollar for dollar, I enjoy the annual beach trip with my in-laws in the same exact house, on the same exact beach, with the same exact people year in and year out.
This isn't intended to sound ungrateful for my Kenya experience. I truly appreciate, on the philosophical level, what a true gift and privilege it was. But in my gut? If I even had to cover half my expenses? I wouldn't go again.
WTF? What is wrong with me? Please tell me it's in my DNA.
Part of this must be some aversion to spending large sums of money on experiences rather than items, because I throw enough cash into stupid DVDs and music files to finance at least one international trip every year.
Just how fucked up is this glitch in my DNA code? Two years ago, due to the conspiratorial planning of some dormitory boys whom I oversee, I won a coveted school award. The award pays several thousand dollars to cover travel expenses however we see fit. We're not talking $10k or anything, but plenty enough to enjoy a fantabulous stateside trip, or enough to provide the backbone for a fancy overseas excursion. The only requirement is that I must use every penny for travel. You can't, like, do some Price is Right thing where you just take the post-tax cash instead of the Chevy.
I won this award in April 2006. We still haven't used it. Two other teachers have since won the award. Both had a trip planned and executed within three months of receiving it. August will be the 28th month we've had this award money and not used it. Our school's financial controller said she's never heard of anything like it.
Ireland. Scotland. Venice. Florence. Australia. The California Coast. Hawaii. Vancouver. Prague. We researched all of them. None of them compelled us more convincingly than the others. Instead of exotic locales, we almost spent the money to rent a beach house and invite any and all of our friends to come down free of charge... but we worried we wouldn't find a week when many of our friends would care to come down, nor did we know if all our various friends would really enjoy staying in a house with other friends of ours who might not be their friends.
See, when you never ever travel, and this magic Golden Ticket lands in your Wonka Bar, the challenge is that you only get to go one and only one place. And odds are good that it's the only trip of such magnitude we'll take in the next decade.
BOTG Bob (not to be confused with Bob Barker) has visited all 50 states in 51 years. He loves to travel, to make all the preparations. It feeds his soul.
Billy won't visit 50 states. Ever. I'll be lucky to make 25 states. And when I'm on my deathbed, to bastardize a quote from Office Space, I won't say I've been missing those other 25, Bob.
This defect annoys me only in the abstract. In reality, I don't think much about it. Most color blind people don't really miss the color red (the picture at right is what "ROY G BIV" looks like to many with color blindness). They know they can't see it, and sometimes they wonder what red is like, but most days they just go about life not missing red in the least. Likewise, my apathy toward travel only bothers me on a rare occasion, like when I'm reading about Bob's trip to Korea. Or when I'm writing a blog on the subject. But then I stop writing, go buy the new $0.49 Paul Westerberg album 49:00, and completely forget what the big deal was.