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Packing It In, Packing It Out - De File — LiveJournal
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
Packing It In, Packing It Out
I leave tomorrow morning for the 20th Century Literature conference in Louisville. But instead of sleeping, I'm up writing an entry about the fact that I never seem able to sleep before a flight. I wait and wait and wait, then finally start packing at the last possible minute.

Even when I was headed to Europe shortly after 9/11, facing a 20+ hour trip from Tucson to Phoenix to Frankfurt to Venice to Klagenfurt (Austria), I still couldn't rest until it was almost to late to get meaningful rest.

That time, I regretted my pre-trip excitement. I vividly recall driving in circles north of Venice, baffled by the Italian system -- or lack of a system -- for numbering local roads, coming to a traffic-filled bridge for a second time, like some mountaineer suddenly realizing that he has walked ten hours in the snow only to come back to the place he started from.

I didn't calm down until I stuck Yo La Tengo's I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One into my rental Fiat's tape player. The surreality of listening to "my" music, music I once listened to with Kim while driving up Highway One in Sonoma County, made me a bridge home.

Still, when I think about the insanity of flying all that way and then driving four hours in a rental car, when I'd never even driven in Europe before, I can't believe that I had the courage. I was so frazzled from the post-9/11 mood, further darkened by the anthrax that was turning up in new locations every hour. At least I had the presence or absence of mine to take pictures while driving in Slovenia

Driving in Slovenia

Did I mention that I landed in Venice on our wedding anniversary, which is also Skylar's birthday?

As the plane descended into the Venice airport, I looked out the window to my left and saw how long, skinny, and densely packed the old city was -- so much bigger than the central portions of German towns I'd visited as an exchange student -- how the hazy glare made everything shake and shimmer, I thought, "It's the Manhattan of its era."

Somewhere in my closet is a box full of items I collected to document my trip to Europe. I had grand plans for a piece about my experience. But I can barely lift the lid off the box. It's like there's toxic waste inside.

Those were strange times. Now I can barely fathom driving from Louisville to Lexington. Everything feels harder. Everything feels dangerous. Everything in me has aged.

Tags: , ,
Mode: dormitary
Muse: How The Stars Got Crossed - Radio 4 - The New Song And Dance

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elizabeg From: elizabeg Date: February 26th, 2004 04:42 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Heard a paper yesterday from a grad who's going to that conference. Asked a horribly inarticulate question about his extension of ethics to the family. Have since decided it's good to be periodically reminded everything can in a moment feel so much harder.

I also have a box of savings from my trip to Europe. I spent less than 24 hours in Venice but on a later train through Germany an old German couple told me stories about the river, gold, a spritely siren protectress. Or maybe those were separate stories. Coming into Frankfurt am Mein, the old man laughed, said I was entering "Mein Hattan."

Have a good trip, Charlie.
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