In his book The Art of Travel, Alain De Botton suggests two motivators for travel: curiosity and the exotic. Anyone who has ever wondered what life is like where the grass is a different shade of green will likely admit to being seduced by curiosity. I suppose many people are content to quench such curiosity by flipping through a travel magazine, surfing the web, or sitting in front of the television. I’ve never quite taken to armchair travel, however, and I believe it is directly related to my love for the exotic. Ironically, this passion for far-flung foreign places is inextricably tied to my quest for a little plot where I can set down my bags, put out a welcome sign, and settle into a comfy armchair. A home.
But even the idea of home—let alone a physical place in space—eludes articulation. Defining home in my mind is like being in a dark room watching a series of photographs develop out of the ether into something that can be titled and put into a frame. How can it be that I’ve fallen in love with a New Zealand dairy, a South Korean shack by the sea, or a Turkish tearoom? As De Botton eloquently suggests, “What we find exotic abroad may be what we hunger for in vain at home.”
Admittedly, there are some things about this about this country that I find a bit unappetizing, and these very things have given me a appetite for life overseas. So, why America? Why me? It’s not Pamir-Highway-exotic. But, I am a little curious to know more about this place my passport calls home.
So, while I’m waiting for those memories of life abroad to process and develop, I’ve decided to step outside the darkroom and observe life from another point of view. What is home in Connecticut? Kentucky? Colorado? While I’d love to have a place to call my own, for now I’m content to be an observer, cruising the land from east to west in search of memories to hang in the gallery of my thoughts I’ve titled “American Authenticity”.