I enjoy going through customs. I like the confirmation. A declaration of adventure. Too often travel ends in a whisper. I spend hours and days planning a trip. Dreaming up scenarios: a blue bird London sky; a pop-up Parisian dinner party; the glory of a Tanzanian mountain descent. I dream these up more than I take them on, but the fantasy satiates. I visualize a passport thick as a Thanksgiving belly and friends and new family on every corner of the globe.
So I always welcome the customs line. I waltz through there like the queen of all things because I am, if only for a minute, the world’s best traveler. I am an ambassador of my own memory and I relish in the opportunity to confirm that I put into practice at least one fantasy.
But it is never as expected. My travel is calculated. I buy Fodder’s and Let’s Go’s in the hopes of staying safe. I go off the beaten path in as much as my mass-produced guide has instructed me to go rogue. I stay in clean hotels, and fare well with my own language. This is the stuff my family lives for. A Disney sanctuary of pre-fab comfort and top-grade assurance. It has effect. It gets me to go, go, go when I live to keep moving. This is good/great/ best less the end result; a mere crawl to the finish line – a hoarse whisper of thanks to whatever locale welcomed me that trip.
I don’t want to whisper. I want to yell from that Tanzanian mountain top. I want to crawl into a yurt without shower and dance in the moonlight and fight for my right to speak at a dinner party. I suppose it’s the experience I’m after. The fall without net sensation of really living that keeps me on Expedia and believing, imploring, unabashedly reaching for a customs line that will stamp my passport ‘life well lived’.
What are we without dreams? But even more, who are we to scrutinize our best efforts to reach them? Day in and day out I’m hard on myself. I’m a lame traveler. A failed adventurer. I’m not working the job I want; not making the money I thought. I’m not reading nor writing nor living. Not, no, nor. I allow these as refrains in my daily shower song. But I don’t want a negative to sing to me. I just want to dream without consequence.
That’s what I carry to customs. The realization of dreams deferred. The overweight parcels of expectation and regret. But, if anything, I’m in line, which has to say something.