Blizzard in the suburbs
And the poet walking.
-Jack Kerouac, Book of Haikus
I never really knew my grandmother.
I mean, I know of her, what my mama tells me of her, but to tell you the truth, I can count on one hand how many times we ever spent time together.
And those memories are fuzzy, as I was young, distracted, occupied with Ninja Turtles, Bart Simpson, and terrorizing my little sister. Not to mention, my grandma-ma lived on the other side of the country, over 3,000 miles away.
What was a kid to do?
I do have other memories of her, though — hundreds of them — post-marked memories that sit in my mama’s closet, collecting dust in a pink box and day-by-day yellow with age.
I really know my grandmother through postcards, 5 X 7 photos with short handwritten notes from far off lands that she would send to me even before I was ever able to read.
You see, the woman who gave life to the woman who gave me life — my grand-ma-ma — was a traveler.
She and her husband, my Gran-pa-PA, were both travelers.
And even in their old age, they still somehow managed to get up and go – all over the world — and my brother, sisters and I followed them (twitter before twitter was twitter, ya dig), tracing their path, one postcard at a time.
They send us postcards of the great white marble mausoleum of Taj Majal in India.
And from the Big Island of Hawaii where hot spot volcanic lava reaches temperatures of almost 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, and the lush tropical rain forests of the Waluia River Valley in Kauii, the Fern Grotto where mother nature reigns supreme green.
I received postcards of orange orangutans chomping on leaves in Malaysia and snap shot sightings of black bears in Yellowstone National Park.
I loved these postcards.
I was always drawn to the colors, the mosaic of imagery they depicted, especially when all laid out next to each other.
I loved running my fingers along the edges, feeling the wear and tear, the frayed corners, imagining just how many miles, how far each one had traveled.
But what I loved most about them were the exotic notions of place they provoked in my mind as a young one — the idea of a world out there that stretches far, far beyond the tree lined streets of Ann Arbor, Michigan.
It was these postcards, in all their simplicity, the pictures and my grandmothers words that somehow gave me an inarticulate lust to just…
And from there my world-view begins to expand…
What inspires you to travel? Can you trace a line to where your wanderlust originated? Why do you travel?