travel

Five Hundred and Twenty Five Feet

I imagine that she is someone with a story. Someone whose life has been a whirlwind of the kinds of experiences most people only dream about, who’s fallen stupidly in love and disappeared across the world and climbed to the roof of a building just because she could. I imagine that what brought her here, to the summit of this beautiful mountain, to the point where she can drift away in the autumn air, is something mysterious and special.

She leans over to the man standing quietly beside her. “It’s amazing how a mile can change your perspective.”

He hums in agreement. They linger in silence for a moment, lost for words, before they settle back into their sedan and drive away.

I imagine that her words are something more than they are. I imagine that she is more than she is. I imagine that she, and they, and the mountain, and me – I imagine that we all mean something.

I settle back into my sedan and drive away.

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Backward Motion

Ever since I was really little, I’ve loved sitting backward on trains. When my parents would take us to our grandparents’ place on the South Shore or to New York City on the commuter rail, I always chose a seat that faced the direction opposite the train’s motion. There was something exhilarating about not being able to see where I was going, like I could all of a sudden just end up in Wonderland without realizing it. Kids gotta get their kicks somewhere, I guess. I liked mystery and apprehension and being able to get off the train and marvel at the sights I never saw coming.

I’m actually writing this sitting backward on a train, something I’m fairly sure I haven’t done in at least ten or twelve years. Usually when I ride the MBTA or the el or the subway, I always make sure I sit facing forward. At this point it’s force of habit. I’m used to the feeling of moving forward – on planes, in cars, on my feet, in boats – it is rare that I am not facing what’s ahead and acutely aware of it. I watch the stops or the clouds or the signs fly past me and I feel the motion driving me into the future, releasing me from all that lies behind.

There is an unfamiliarity surrounding backward travel. Sensation is different when your internal organs are leading rather than following the rest of your body. And while you have a perfect 180-degree view of where you’ve just been, you’re totally blind to where you’re going. It takes trust to ride this way. It takes faith. It takes processing all the places you’ve seen and believing that based on those experiences, you have become something more than you were. Those are the moments when you’re sure the place you’re going is where you’re supposed to be.

Home Again, Home Again

The last few days have gone by faster than I ever could have imagined. I can’t believe it was only last Friday that the process of coming home started, and now it’s Wednesday evening and I’m sitting at my kitchen table surrounded by all of my little brother’s college mail. Time really has a way of sneaking up on you! It’s overwhelming to look across from me and see my trunk and drawers and boxes and think about unpacking it all, but I figure I’ve got five months, so I probably don’t need to start unpacking immediately. I do need to get some of that stuff out, though, so that I have things to wear in the next few days. That’s probably important.

The flight today was pretty uneventful. It’s been awhile since the last time I was on a plane – I think it was last spring break. Even though the noise in the back of the plane was slightly ridiculous, it was almost calming enough to be considered white noise, and I had no trouble concentrating on my book. It was one I started reading last June but had to put down because I just got so busy, and the other day after I decided to leave school I picked it up again. Honestly, it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s non-fiction and it’s all about math, so it probably wouldn’t appeal to the masses, but I really enjoyed it! When I finished it, I looked over at my mom and said, “Everyone needs to read this book.” I then opened the front cover and voila! Some reviewer agreed with me! So, in conclusion, everyone needs to read this book.

Here’s Looking at Euclid was written by Alex Bellos, a British journalist who graduated from Oxford with a double major in mathematics and philosophy. The book is separated into sections and deals with not only concepts and ideas, but personal interviews and background information about people who have influenced the reception of those concepts. For example, there’s a section that deals with φ, the golden ratio, and has a description of Alex’s encounter with the man who uses φ to design dentures. The math is laid out in really simple terms so it’s not too difficult to understand if you don’t know much about math, but it’s also not too tedious if you’re more experienced. It’s just really well-written. I was upset when I finished the book – I wanted there to be so much more!

One of the things I’m looking forward to most about being home is being able to read all the books I want. I have a long list of books that I’ve been adding to for years that I really want to read, and I figured now is a pretty good opportunity to start making a dent in it. Between my parents, the public library, the school library, and my Nook, I can probably get access to all the literature I want! I have to decide where to start, though; that’s going to be the hard part. Maybe it’s just best to start at the beginning. We’ll see what I end up choosing first!