Monday, September 29, 2008

Travel journal

This was when we were in Koh Tao, Thailand. We stayed in a little bungalow perched on top of a pile of large rocks. All we could see from our rickety bamboo balcony was the open sea, occasionally cut by a water taxi making its way around the island. There was a small oil lamp near the door and I spent a good amount of time trying to light the wick, but it never took. Instead we sat under the yellow bulb and watched the night settle in around us.

In this photo I was writing in my travel journal, which has come to be an essential part of any trip. Before I got this volume I would write what we did in the margins of guidebooks or scraps of paper, trying to remember the names of restaurants and tour guides, and the results were always cryptic and useless later on. Once I got smart and got a journal, I started writing more and taping in small relics of the trip: ticket stubs, postcards, etc. This particular volume accompanied me to Italy, Spain, California, Montana, Hawaii, and ended its career in Asia. I read something by Italo Calvino in college about how the cities we visit both ask us questions and answer our questions. So I always find myself wondering what a particular place is asking of me, and answering for me. (New York asked me everything.)

Anyways, so that's my travel journal, and here's a photo L took of me slumping over to write in it. In the photo you can see the oil lamp to my left, along with a thick copy of Thomas Wolfe's "You Can't Go Home Again." To my back is the wine-dark sea. The first chapter of the Wolfe book had me energized and feeling young and literate and alive, but unfortunately it went downhill from there. But for that brief moment it was spectacular.

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