Sunday, March 6, 2011

Be a Tourist in Your Town

There is great pleasure in being home. There are all the CD’s I’ve so meticulously collected, the books, the refrigerator filled with food of my choice, the piano awaiting my fingers. But I also can feel the pull of those endless lists— “Fix me! Replace the cartridge! Get cat food! We’re out of cumin! Choose a different font!”—the paraphernalia of busyness that calls louder at home than on the road.

Travel reduces life to simpler terms. In my earlier travels, writing and mailing an aerogram might be the event of the day. Now with wireless in the hotel rooms, Skype and I-Tunes on the computer, some of home travels with me. But still alone at the end of the day in the hotel, there is more permission to write in my journal, read a book or enjoy the Solitaire tournament. On days off from teaching abroad, I’m more likely to wander aimlessly through a neighborhood than do errands.

So being home, I can feel those old familiar pulls, the feeling of “what do I need to get done?” trumping “where should I wander today?” Once you’re in that mode, there’s no end to the little errands and busy work. The trick is to trick yourself into being a tourist in your own town. And so today’s entry is a little poem on the subject.

A Tourist in Your Town

When things are low and getting stale
You’re feeling rather down.
Walk out the door, hoist up your sail,
Be a tourist in your town!

Break out those splashy shirts,
Throw the camera ‘round your neck.
Go rent a car from Hertz
A Jaguar? What the heck!

The place you pass most every day,
Now looks like someplace new.
The cup you drink at your café
Tastes better and more true.

The things you’ve seen so oft before
Come laden with surprise.
As if you’ve opened a new door,
You see with tourists’ eyes.

The camera’s eye now frames,
What was too close to see.
Those shuttered windowpanes,
On the shop that serves herb tea.

The skateboarders careening,
Down Lombard’s curvy street.
All takes on a new meaning
When you walk with tourist feet.

The sounds of children playing,
The thunderous ocean roar.
Why, you might consider staying,
Perhaps a few days more?

So when your spirit’s flagging,
No remedies can be found.
Take my advice, put on new eyes,
Be a tourist in your town. 

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