I’m missing places I’ve never been. The pandemic pause has derailed and initially dampened my wanderlust. But the urge to adventure and explore has raged back like a wildfire whipped by winds of change. My eyes are starved for new vistas. My feet itch to traipse strange landscapes. I want to immerse myself in a foreign tongue, picking up and picking apart common phrases so I can catch that glimmer of connection and appreciation in people’s eyes when I make an effort to speak their language. I want to get lost in the unfamiliar so deeply that I come away longing to belong.
I’m more an immersive traveler, less a tourist. Sure, I’ll hit the main sights — the museums and monuments, the Michelin-starred restaurants and kitschy shops. But I don’t really begin to experience a place until I’ve wandered where the locals spend their days. Some of my most prized memories include: Taking my mother for Roman pizza at a literal hole-in-the-wall on the north side of the city, where abundant and delicious sheets of dough, sauce, and cheese where sliced with scissors and sold by weight. Spending a brutally hot afternoon in the shady shop of a painter in a tiny town on the Algarve in Portugal, each of us using our basic French to reach an intellectual accord on of the writings of Pessoa and agreement on price for a beautiful hand-rendered tile. Bustling through the narrow, crowded back alleys of Hong Kong to visit a dissident bookshop featuring political tomes in English and literature in Chinese. To all of this, I say, “Grazie. Obrigado. Xièxiè.”
But the world is closed to me — to us — at present. So I dream of where I might go next, craving fjords and deserts, mountain villages and volcanic beaches, spice markets and mosques. I am so very impatient for life to resume.