What Would You Do If You Were Immortal? That’s What You Should Be Doing Now.

The dinner conversations around my home can vacillate wildly between fart jokes and “What superpower would you pick?” to that’s-what-she-said jokes and questions about who invented money, the violin, or any number of objects. Many times this calls for someone to look up the answer on a phone or smart home device.

Recently, my daughter asked us at dinner, “What three things would you do if you were immortal?”

Unlike some questions (like, “Mom, what was the Cuban missile crisis about?”), I found this one pretty easy to answer without the help of Google.

  1. Learn all the languages.
  2. Travel the planet experiencing people and places.
  3. Write about all those experiences.

Given all the time I could care to imagine, I believed I would choose endless communication, travel, people, and writing. And I felt pretty great about my answers. That is until I compared it to my current mortal life pursuits.

I wasn’t working on any languages, wasn’t initiating travel for myself, wasn’t trying to meet the people around me, wasn’t writing anywhere near my capacity. Where was my sense of adventure? Where were my leaps of faith? Where were my friends? Where was my passport?

Just because I didn’t have the luxury of an immortal life was no reason to squander the pretty amazing handful of decades that I could reasonably expect. By using my limited time for my immortal pursuits, I’m finding that I can achieve moments of timelessness and deep fulfillment. But without the horrendous accusations that I’m a supernatural being.

Now. Excuse me while I practice my French on Duolingo. I’ll need to know how to speak it the next time I’m in Europe.

Travel Journal: San Francisco

I was recently able to travel to San Francisco for my birthday. My wife conveniently had a conference, and I tagged along and explored the city during the day while she was busy. I only had 50 hours there, so it was a whirlwind of activity. This is the journal of my two-day experience.

Day 1

Wake up in the hotel and put on my running shoes because I plan to cover a lot of ground today. Mesmerized by the architecture of the neighborhoods and the hills so steep with no switchbacks. Breakfast sandwich and crunchy potatoes at MyMy Cafe. The food culture here is amazing. Last night an Italian dinner at Colombini. I love recalling the flavors of the pesto and icebox balsamic. I hear so many languages, so many accents as I walk the north side of the city. Australian, British, Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, German, Spanish, Catalan, Italian, Portuguese, French.

I walk to the Marina from my hotel in the Tenderloin. Put my feet in the Pacific Ocean for the first time, taste the cold salt water from my fingers. Now it is part of me. Golden Gate Bridge. Alcatraz Island. The traffic of rowboats, tankers, sailboats in the bay. A man about my age walks onto the beach and shucks his shirt, shorts, and shoes into a neat pile. He walks into the ocean in swimming briefs and begins to breaststroke in the dark, chilly water. I find three tiny shells, unbroken in the surf, to take home.

The plant life is abundant and wildly different from Denver. Palm trees, magnolia trees, succulents, irises, lilies, orchids. The sweet scent of jasmine on a trellis.

I take a break at the Marina branch of the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL). A small branch but great selection. Pro tip when traveling: libraries usually have free wifi, bathrooms, and water. The library is located beside a small, gated playground. Sign on the gate announces a city ordinance: All adults must be accompanied by children.

I have a persistent headache. My migraine medication doesn’t touch it. A pressure headache? Allergies? I power through. Continue reading “Travel Journal: San Francisco”

No Excuses Solo Travel

When was the last time I traveled completely alone?

I went to Oklahoma for my mom’s birthday in 2017. But I traveled with my sister and stayed with my parents, so that doesn’t count for these purposes.

No, when was the last time I went somewhere completely by myself? I visited my best friend when I was in high school and flew alone to Louisiana. But her family picked me up at the airport, and I stayed with them the entire time.

I can conclude then that I have never traveled completely alone. I have always had family or friends with me for the better part of a trip. I’ve never been in a position to independently plan my days and activities. How strange to be in my late 30s and only now contemplating solo travel.

My favorite excuse for my inability to travel alone has been Motherhood. In fact, Motherhood has been my most-used excuse for the things I’ve said no to in the last 14 years. Motherhood was at some point somewhat of a hindrance, and it still offers limitations. But I am not so limited as I pretend.  

What would it be like to go to Portland, Oregon on a solo trip for four days, three nights?

Getting only myself onto the plane, off the plane, then to my accommodations. Taking some time to settle in first then go walking and exploring, getting a feel for the neighborhood. Finding my bearings and a cafe. Dinner. An early night to rest up for the next day.  

Choosing the day with the best weather to go to the beach. Walking the shoreline, exploring, turning over driftwood, rocks, feeling the cold sand, breathing the brine. Lunch. Finding another coffee shop or quiet bar to write and read.

Another day I would go to Powell’s Bookstore and make that my epicenter for exploration. I would walk in ever-expanding circles (or more probably rectangles), discovering the nooks and crannies of the high streets. Looking in at boutiques, used bookstores, pastry shops, Thai places. I would get a tarot reading, a massage.

I would go a whole day without speaking more than necessary pleasantries. I would be eyes and ears, hands and feet. I would tunnel into the thoughts these sensations evoke. Slip out of expression except through movement and writing. How interesting to be, without being forced to emote or communicate outside of oneself. Only for a short time, but what a pleasure to vacate the land of speech.

I’m going out to find new stories, my own stories, and bringing them back to share.

Fewer excuses, more stories.