Posts tagged "travel"
Lick

Lick

What is already history: Waking in the dark. Dressing in the dark. Reviewing the checklist of things to remember. Driving on icy roads. Unloading the luggage, kissing goodbye. Showing identification, checking bags. Removing coat, removing shoes, watch, jewelry. Aimless browsing in airport shops, hoping a snack might look appealing at 6 a.m. or a magazine...
Full Service

Full Service

It is black Friday. I am wearing a black hoodie with the words RACIALLY PROFILED printed in white across my chest. I am selected, randomly, at check in. Hands in my hair,                       down my back, in my hometown airport.                       Never touching my skin, only the fabric that is covering it. I am...
“La Vuoi una Mano?”

“La Vuoi una Mano?”

The old man is wearing a black trench coat and holding it wide open, showing a shriveled, pasty penis. “Cazzo,” I say, staring out the train window. Cappella Agnuzzo is one of the few stops on the single-track Ferrovia Lugano-Ponte Tresa line where a passing loop allows two trains traveling in opposite directions to pull...

Textures and Contrasts: Starting Points for Travel Writing

We walk toward the Saturday flea market in Hannover, Germany; my eyes saccade between the shop windows and my children, who dart ahead toward the river. A woman is kneeling on the ground at an intersection of this pedestrian zone—a square that interrupts the busy street. In front of her are shopping bags and a...
One Hundred Days in India

One Hundred Days in India

In India, a dog, a monkey, and a cow attacked me. My husband would say the cow nudged me, but he didn’t feel the horn in his hip. The monkey left marks. As we exited the airport, we watched the slums of Mumbai unroll for miles in all directions. Each home, constructed from cardboard, tarps,...
All or Nothing, Self-Portrait at Twenty-Seven

All or Nothing, Self-Portrait at Twenty-Seven

It’s all empty beer cans and skinny dipping. (Bud Light and chlorine.) A guitar player with a beard who won’t let go as hard as you do. It’s teasing the strings of your orange bikini while he tosses his trunks onto the stone. It’s the ease of your body through dark water. The day he...
Hans Hoffman's House

Hans Hoffman’s House

76 Commercial Street, Provincetown At the top of the house, I’m already turning to stone. But silver blazes through all the windows on the bay. How can I not get up? Still, making coffee I think, drink it in the white curtained gauzy bed, hide away from the many windows on both sides of this...
The Saigon Kiss

The Saigon Kiss

Hanoi drivers in their sunglasses and facemasks ignore ambulances and fire trucks—they won’t even move for a man in a faded white tank top, in a wheelchair he ratchets down the turn lane, a boy with shuttered eyes draped across his lap. Kid’s got to be at least nine, nothing looks wrong except for that...
Electricity

Electricity

After spending most of the day on a plane, too young to drink miniature bottles of liquor but too old not to resent it, crammed between my amma and a man in baggy churidar, there it was, not quite as I remembered but intimately familiar nonetheless: Mumbai airport. Redolent with humid, fan-beaten air; dark arms...
Gambling

Gambling

On the drive back from a friend’s cabin, on a beautiful pine tree-framed lake, on the edge of Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin, we stop at a casino. Maybe we will have lunch. Play a few slots. We are not gamblers. I have been to Vegas twice, once on the way to somewhere else—neither time did...
If We Had Been Allowed to Take Pictures

If We Had Been Allowed to Take Pictures

If we had been allowed to take pictures inside the Cathedral of the Holy Ascension, this is the picture I would have taken: A woman cleans the wax from the base of the candelabras. She wears a brown and orange dress, simple, made of sturdy material, like a pillow case or a craft project, and...
Afternoon Affair

Afternoon Affair

On the light rail after work I sit down next to a homeless man sitting next to his black plastic garbage bag stuffed full. He asks me for my name. He is friendly so I give it to him. He is Popeye, he laughs, I am Olive Oyl. He has the sour smell of the...
Five from Kyrgyzstan

Five from Kyrgyzstan

One: At sunrise I’ve packed myself onto a tiny rumbling minibus headed for the capital. Outside the ground is frozen and the sky casts the mountains in pale pink and gold. In the back, a live goat stuffed into a plastic bag bleats gently. It’s Halloween weekend. I’m wearing a school uniform that I borrowed...

After the Parade

The Chinese dragon comes last, a red and yellow flutter with a black, toothy grimace, tipping back and forth between the crowds gathered along the street. My son steps off the curb to see then darts back to wrap his arms around my knee. I point to the legs in black propelling the dragon forward,...

There Are Distances Between Us

The interstate highway system in the United States is the largest and most sophisticated in the world. It is named for President Dwight D. Eisenhower. There are two points and between them, a distance between you and me. These two points are connected in ways we will never fully understand but they are connected. You are there...

Becoming a Sanvicenteña: Five Stages

Stage 1: Fear The old highway to San Vicente is nothing more than a dirt road. At the height of the dry season the landscape is leached of color, the road pale as bone. We bump in and out of potholes, my American advisor filling the Peugeot with 400 years of Costa Rican history: the...

Somebody Else’s Genocide

After my reading in Atlanta, Georgia, a blond woman asked me, in German-accented English, if my books were translated and published in Germany. “Ja,” I said. I studied German for two years in high school and one semester in college, but I remembered only a few words—abgehetzt, schoner, arschloch—and only one phrase: Ich habe sieben...

Driving William Stafford

The only thing we talked about was bread. How to keep the crust from splitting in the oven’s heat. How to keep the rise from falling. What the kneading did for the hands. It was 3:00 a.m., as dark as early morning gets, and 26º below. I looked it up. At least once per mile,...