Shallow Woman #1, having just checked her obscenely large suitcase, now sits in a small plane seat, left now only with an obscenely large purse, on her way home from New York City, a little more anxiously than she would like. She has purchased the July issue of Travel + Leisure and it is rolled in the manner that only magazines can be, and located somewhere in the depths of this cavernous thing she now believes she foolishly purchased in a moment of unwarranted impulse. Now guaranteed never to lose anything, she will possibly be forever unable to find any of it.
She’s been at a travel blogging conference (Travel Blog Exchange/TBEX.) The conference was a good idea; the purse which she bought at the Charleston, SC, covered market a few short weeks ago, was not. She is aware the purse was a bad, bad idea, but only since she heard about her beautiful, brilliant, cupcake of a daughter being in a car accident.(she’s fine)
There has just been a phone conversation where Shallow Woman #1 managed to keep her act together, and say “I love you, I love you, I love you” to her daughter several dozen times. She begins to feel less shallow, but only until she catches herself. Her daughter, whom she is almost sure she knew long before she was even born 17 years ago, cries deep intake of breath sobs that don’t happen often; the kind when the heart is so visibly on the outside, all you want to do is put it back. (She would say more here, but she doesn’t want to embarrass her child, if she hasn’t already.)
I know I’m in an “off” frame of mind because I’m observing myself this way – meaning in the third person, intimately, but at a distance, like a fictional character that I wouldn’t expect a reader to like just yet.
Maybe it’s because they don’t really know her, but maybe it’s not.
I learned from Gary Arndt’s Sunday morning session at the Travel Blog Exchange conference that “travel porn” aka “outrageously gorgeous travel photography” is seeing places that one will more than likely never visit; just the way “food porn” is seeing food that one will more than likely never eat, and “porn porn” is seeing people do things that one will more than likely never do.
More conference gleaned porn for thought: There are lots more places in a single issue of a magazine like Travel + Leisure than most people will probably ever visit in a lifetime.
Before getting to T + L, I I manage to fish out from the depths, “AM New York,” a tabloid format daily, I snagged at breakfast. On page four, there’s a a story about poor Prince Harry falling off his polo pony. On the same page there’s a story that disturbs me so much so that I confess I wish I hadn’t even seen it. I’ll say here the news story has an angle of tourists being frighteningly unaware and/or unfazed by something random and senseless involving a baby.
So I’m crying now, but tears of the average wet and quiet kind. Heart stays acceptably on my inside where it belongs. I travel with so many tissues, I easily find plenty in spite of purse issues. The buckle part of my seat belt is mixed up with the guy sitting next to me, with him using my buckle, and I, his. He is reading “A Lesson Before Dying,” and I feel sorry for him because I know it must be required summer reading. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow to either of us.
T + L with its slick cover is easy to find in my ridiculous purse which if you can’t guess, I kind of hate right now, because I now believe nothing in it matters. I start reading the magazine from the back – does anyone else do this? Unable to settle on anything too long, my eyes come to rest on a pull quote on page 127. It starts:
“In Sonoma, life is being lived the way it was meant to be lived. Outside in the sunlight…”
Any quote that tries to definitively say how life was meant to be lived seems a little absurd. But hey, whatever. Then this little jewel cake of a pull quote goes on to say:
“…. Eating fresh tomatoes and handmade cheeses.”
All I can say to this is, “Seriously?” I may have really even said it out loud.
And I laugh. I tell the guy sitting next to me that our seat belts are mixed up. He says he was just about to say the same thing.
How do you think life is “meant to be lived”?
I’m thinking it doesn’t have anything to do with fresh tomatoes and handmade cheeses.
Daughter is going to be fine!