Wayfaring Pilgrim

There are different ways to leave home for a sojourn elsewhere. A person might be a pilgrim, a tourist, a traveler, a wayfaring hobo, or a nomad. A journey for pleasure didn’t exist in Europe’s dark ages, for example, when travel could only be unpleasant and dangerous. Religious pilgrims are considered the first tourists, as Chaucer’s characters will attest. Pilgrims, like tourists, are in search of a particular specific experience—hopefully one that also comes with food, drink, lodging and possible souvenirs.
My family of origin’s style combined pilgrim and tourist. We approached sites—the Grand Canyon!the Louvre!—with the religious fervor of pilgrims and the prescribed circuit of tourists. That is, we saw only what we planned to see. Great works of art—yes. Unknown cafes, cats in alleys, stationary stores—no.This drove me insane when I was a child. I wanted to wander, go here and there. I sobbed and refused to get of a mini van and see the cathedral in Milan (which I regret to this day) but I was just too burnt out on official great monuments.
And yet paradoxically I retain a taste for an identifiable destination.
On the road with my husband Rich, I’d say we are traveling. Moving between places, motion and designated points of equal importance. In Alaska, we were called independent travelers—we were on ferries and not cruise ships—we trod our own circuit. And of course we liked the moniker.
But I’m a pilgrim too. I want to see a certain writer’s house or studio, a battlefield, a grave, a painting, a diner. I want to go and worship at the shrine of beauty or history or just plain quirkiness. I want to taste the shoo fly pie or the kim chee.
And I bought a snowball to shake, glitter falling on Niagara Falls. And keep it in the bedroom where I can look at this cheap chintzy item and remind myself—there is elsewhere.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s