"Just remember Pasha, you see Europe just like you see Moscow, through the window of a taxi", my father laconically replied as I expelled a few notes ringing in my mind.
If only I could share the preceding thoughts. No! Not yet. But, let me share this sobering perspective :)
We travel and open ourselves up to new smells, new people, new sights, and we stand at arm’s distance, fully able to appreciate the view without being questioned by it, tried, tested. It’s a non-threatening relationship we conflate with a sharpened awareness that allows us to exhale self and breath in novelty. The experience is safe because we forget ourselves and the mental baggage we checked in with the luggage at the hotel. Phone can be off. Computer can be without a charge. A few euro’s in pocket and one is good to go. It’s a tourist mentality.
I go back and see family in Moscow and don’t worry about the emails I am likely missing. My worries can be suspended because I only stay for a few weeks at a time. It’s a curious state of relaxation that wiggles me past societal stressors and allows me to see the humanity of my fellow Muscovites, the glittering architecture, my happy recollections of how I grew up eating pelmeni, all without having to worry about the shit condition the rouble is in or how we may be at the forefront of a third world war with our currently "elected" president. Oh how removed I am from the woes of my fellow Russians! It’s because I am a tourist.
The paradoxical fact remains that we can garb ourselves with the same care-free nature without having to book a flight someplace exotic. My father uttered those words and I was so taken aback, that I even stumbled away from NYC in that moment. Time stopped, I didn’t mechanically refresh my emails on my phone, and just looked around as if I was a tourist. The west village was illuminated by a soft late afternoon sun that warmed me rather than set my short fuse ablaze. A clock-tower waved it’s hour hand and told me how many more hours were left to enjoy my stroll, rather than stress over my to-do list for the following day. I became a tourist.
I’ve jumped into such roles before, and they may be better known as staycations. You don’t go anywhere, you just stay as if you were away. Next week a person I hold dear is visiting and I have already notified all the people I work with professionally that I will be out of town. (booking out definitively eliminates any need for explanation, because, well, fuck em; this is your special time) The time together must be uninterrupted. "Devices" will be turned off and I will be able to float around with this individual without any distraction, far sequestered in a bubble of pure enjoyment. I will love NYC because I won’t be tied down to it; just passing by peering out of the back of some taxi.
It’s always in one’s ability to shift perspective. Walking home tomorrow evening, slow to a adagietto tempo, just a step slower than walking pace, and allow the wind to brush your chin up to see how the moonlight falls on the tips of the rustling treetops. How they will look down and smile that they were finally noticed!