I don’t know about you guys, but I kinda love Home Depot. They have so many cool and practical products that you can use as intended or repurpose them into something else. We went in this morning looking for supplies because, wait for it….we’re starting a garden! I ordered a whole bunch of seeds which arrived a few weeks ago and, now that we’re all on vacation, we’re going to start planting the seeds. It should be an interesting process, especially because I have a tendency to kill plants. Happily, we got everything we need, so expect to see pictures of dirt and seeds soon. You can say they’ll be…dirty pictures….
lol That was a terrible joke, I apologize.
A few days ago I told you guys that I finally bought my tickets to Europe. I land in Scotland and will be traveling around the UK, then moving on to a few different countries. Needless to say, I’m pretty excited about it all. I love this pocket of time before a trip, where you plan and pack, and get everything ready. I’m in this whole process of figuring out what I need to pack for such a long trip, thinking about which countries will be my priorities, wondering which are the books that will win a spot to fight it out in my suitcase. May the odds be ever in their favor.
Throughout it all though, I’ve been reading. Jake Hersh has turned out to be a complex character that I love and hate by moments. There’s a scene where he’s talking about how he romanticized England growing up.
“Slowly, inexorably, he was being forced to pay the price of the colonial come to the capital. In the provinces, he had been able to revere London and its offerings with impunity. Fulminating in Montreal, he could agree with Auden that the dominions were tiefste Provinz. Scornful of all things home-baked, he was at one with Dr. Johnson, finding his country a cold and uninviting region. As his father had blamed the goyim for his own inadequacies, mentally billing them for the sum of his misfortunes, so Jake had foolishly held Canada culpable for all his discontents. Coming to London, finding it considerably less than excellent, he was at once deprived of this security blanket. The more he achieved, feeding the tapeworm of his outer ambitions, the larger his inner hunger. He would have preferred, for instance, that the highly regarded Timothy Nash had been worthy of his reputation and that it was utterly impossible for Jacob Hersh to be as good. He would have been happiest had the capital’s standards not been so readily attainable and that it were still possible for him to have icons.”
I realize how arrogant he sounds thinking that greatness was “readily attainable”, but this is often what happens to us. We romanticize places and people, then are faced with the fact that what seemed like untouchable greatness from afar is actually the product of earthly processes and, actually, quite attainable with the proper dedication.
I’ve been thinking about this scene specifically in terms of my trip. I’ve wanted to visit these countries my entire life, especially England. I’m sure, after an unnameable number of movies, tv shows, books, and articles, I’ve come to romanticize them as well. England with the tea, the pearls, and the tiny biscuits. Where people say cheeky and fanny means something else entirely. I know I have my fantasies, my greener grass on the other side ideas. I think we all do. Looking around at the state of our countries, sometimes it’s hard to keep from blaming them for what Jake calls our “discontents”.
Even knowing the countries I visit will not resemble the countries of my imagination though, I still feel the imperative to travel. There’s something about standing on new ground that makes me feel like life is worth living. It reminds me that, even though sometimes it seems like my problems and my successes are bigger than everything, the world is larger than I will ever be. It’s humbling really; we’re small specks traveling in a world that holds so much more than we could ever conceive.
Jake was so convinced that Canada was what was stifling him that he never thought to see all the things it had to offer. Living in London, he realized that England was a country like any other and his icons were very talented people, but still just people. Maybe the grass will be greener on the other side of the pond, maybe not. The only way you learn that though, is by crossing over and seeing for yourself. However, I think Dorothy had it right when she clicked her red heels and said…. there is no place like home.