40 years and still wandering

September 16, 2019

I know it may look like dilettantism…

Moses might probably understand, but that’s about the only one. And even he would note I wasn’t looking for any Promised Land.

…but at least my social skills were good

In June 1971, I left the United States, and spent the next nearly three years traveling abroad. Always with very little money, I amounted to little more than a vagrant for a good portion of that time. On the positive side, I was genuinely looking for some place and station in life where I belonged. It had never occurred to me in that time of my life that in order to find what you’re looking for, you need some idea of what that is.

When I arrived back home in 1974, most of the friends I’d left behind were well on their way to middle class stability. I bounced around from job to job proudly listing on my resume the countries I had traveled through, until a helpful HR person told me all that meant to an employer was that I had squandered three years of my life. I took the travel off my resume, but kept bouncing around from job to job. In the early 1980s I started writing, which merely turned out to be yet another example of my lack of career focus from my employer’s point of view.

Meanwhile, in the real world, Carol and Mike were married and on their way…

I reached retirement age in about the same state of good health and financial stability as when I landed in Paris in 1971, taking both in the same indifferent stride, as I did back then. In 2012 Carolyn beta read the book I finally decided to write based on 1he 1971-3 journal I had kept hidden all those years. The effort rekindled the love we once shared within those journal pages. In 2013 we married and in 2017 she died from leukemia. She said she always knew I’d be a writer (sympathetically leaving out the part about not being self-sufficient at it)

I always believed Carolyn would find a way to come back and kick my ass if I just gave up after she died. During her hospital stay, I kept family and friends informed via email, and after she passed, turned part of them into a memoir of our short time together, as well as adding a running commentary on what it meant to be a widow living on with nevertheless happy memories and renewed purpose.

…And so was I – in a manner of speaking

This blog continues to fill my need for structure in a vocation I privately maintain (until now, that is) I have not or will ever retire from. It’s been through this blog that I’ve met Carol, which has already brought me greater and more unexpected wealth than any book contract ever could have. Our fourth European trip together (after only a year or so of knowing each other) is coming up in a month, and I continue to write. It’s all been fresh and exciting, except for one thing: I still don’t know what I’m looking for when I travel. I think after forty years, I’ll just keep it that way.

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