Holy Shit

I’ve been lucky. I mean like, “Holy shit, I can’t believe I got to do and see all this stuff” lucky. Life has taken me all over the world, and most of the time I got paid to travel. I’ve hitchhiked through Zimbabwe, motorcycled through Colombia, and been on the field for a game of elephant soccer in Pondok Baru. I’ve met lots of amazing people (and a few real wankers) wherever I’ve gone. These days when people ask me if I’ve been to a country I haven’t visited before, I say “not yet.” I figure it’s only a matter of time before the opportunity drops in my lap. As a shy mama’s boy growing up in a hick town, I didn’t even have the imagination to picture having seeing so much of the world. I appreciate this undeserved good fortune every day.

Buy the ticket, take the ride.

— HST

I'm the ruiner

As a writer, people always say, “Oh my God! You should, like, totally write about your travels and like, whatever!” (I don’t know why they talk like giddy high school girls, but they do. It’s weird.) It would be fun to write about my brief trip to Yemen in 2014 – a day after Al Qaida beheaded an American in Sana’a, and about a month before the government fell – and I’d love to tell the story of my time in a Zambian hospital suffering from E.coli. But try as I might, I struggle to write that stuff. Why? Because there’s this one dude that shows up in all the stories and ruins everything for me. That dude is me.

I’ve always felt like David Copperfield, from the Charles Dickens novel; the least interesting person in a tale full of great characters. So when I try to tell “true” stories about my time as a traveler, I agonize (to a ridiculous extent) about accidentally trying to make myself look cool, being melodramatic about the situation I was in, or – worst of all – getting all preachy. I’m so self-conscious about being a vainglorious douche while writing about my travels that my internal editor sandbags the whole exercise. Ten minutes after I sit down to write a travel essay, he’s standing on my desk shouting insults at me. (My internal editor is a total asshole.)

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

— Oscar Wilde

So it's lies. Or fiction...

What I want to write about is the places and the people I see. I like to use writing as a way of exploring the things I failed to understand while I was in the moment, and as a way of continuing to ask questions about what I saw. To date, the only way I can do that is to take myself out of the picture. And that’s where writing fiction comes in. I feel like I can see things more clearly without my own shit head behavior clouding my memory.

I went to a restaurant that serves "breakfast at any time". So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.

— Stephen Wright

Heal

There’s a chance that this blog will help me move past my own stupid neuroses, and allow me to be less self-conscious about sharing my travel stories. I’ll probably throw some brief anecdotes into the cyber-stream from time to time – along with snarky asides, updates on my life as a busted down athlete, and songs of praise for chocolate and coffee – and see how it goes. In the meantime, I’ll keep wandering. I’ll keep writing fictional stories in the hope of arriving at some kind of truth about the places I’ve been so lucky to see.