Visiting

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I never had a bucket list. I went to Paris and avoided long lines of tourists by not visiting the Louve. In London, I succeeded in somehow utterly avoiding the queen. When I visit anywhere, I’m more interested in experiencing what living there might feel like, so I go find a laundromat or a grocery store and see. I ride the bus rather than hail that cab, or I walk. No better way to get to know anywhere than by hoof. I despise wax museums, salt water taffy factories, cute crap shops, and every imaginable kind of guided tour. I am not a tourist.

Tourists, in my humble opinion, give visiting a bad reputation. Towns and cities around the world encourage tourists, though, building intricate traps to lure them in, and managing to attract people who seem perfectly satisfied forking over sixty bucks to clop along in a carriage behind a weary dray horse to look at throngs of less fortunate tourists on foot.

”Near this spot Jean Lafite founded the first ...,” I hear the beginning of a clearly too-oft repeated legend from a bored-brainless tour guide feigning enthusiasm, and I could, frankly, Scarlett, care less. The visitor finds the experience equally amusing and tragic. He’s just out for a walk, aimless in destination.

Aimless but not without purpose, or not without the intention of discovering the purpose of that particular aimless walk. It’s sure to emerge before it’s over. A small happening will occur, an event unworthy of any guidebook but seemingly convincingly crafted especially, remarkably for me. I might meet someone I’d never plan to meet, see something that finally stitches up some long-flapping loose end, or stumble across a fantastic lunch. No way to know until the feet have been hitting that strange street for a while. The often retold stories will be all about that unlikely event.

I do not want to relive anyone else’s revelation, or for anyone else to relive mine. Much of such events’ impact gets lost in packaging and shipping, and not even the storyteller could recreate his own magical moment revisiting the place where it happened to happen. That moment’s gone, as gone as it was the moment after that moment, leaving ample room for another place and another time to elbow her way in to create another, different point of blinding impact.

The visitor isn’t trolling for these experiences, but remains open to them. Seeking doesn’t help the visitor any more than it helps the traveller. One visits to open the possibility of being found, not to search out and find anything. Opening up, something’s just bound to happen.

So why do I write these little visitor-logues? For me, they remind me of the possibility of blind possibility, reassuring me that even small magic is more than possible, but likely when I can sidestep my usual intricate plannings. I remember that I need not choreograph my existence, and might well be better off avoiding grand strategy in all its forms; not to be aimless but to properly leverage aimlessness. I paint the target around the point where things go Thunk! and hit a bullseye every time.

I do not begrudge the traveller, even though I might curse quietly under my breath when another one, clearly in a deep trance, pulls a full stop in the middle of the sidewalk in front of me. “Sorry,” I explain, ‘your brake lights must be busted,” and amble on my way.

©2014 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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