This year I started reading travel books for fun, after our trip to Italy. I’m using my upcoming semester abroad as an excuse, but the truth is that I really have found a love for reading these books (much to the dismay and teasing of some friends).
Here’s the thing, though. When I read a travel book, I’m not reading lists of facts and dull descriptions. I read, and I imagine I’m standing in that museum looking at Monet’s water lilies, and I’m imagining all the stories that can spring from drinking tea at Van Gogh’s yellow café, and I’m imagining how it would feel to walk through the ancient Roman forts in north England. I read about the Alps and I’m there, breathing beautiful clean air and smelling snow. I read the books because while I read them, I can explore the world.
The other day I was reading about Paris, and looking at some of the prices, and found myself thinking, “There’s no way I can do this. I can’t pay for all the stuff I want to see. I have to renew my vow to save money! Except I make so little it isn’t even enough to get me from paycheck to paycheck.” I felt depressed for a moment, and set my Best of Europe aside. But then I made myself pick it up again. Because even if I can’t see all of this in person… I’m a millionaire when I read.
My travel book consumption has doubled since Wednesday. Here’s another thing I discovered: When I read my travel books, I’m not sick. I don’t have to worry about that hike because it might give me an asthma attack, or about the load of stuff I’m taking because it might hurt my back, or the proximity to a hospital just-in-case-whatever-happens. I don’t have to wear a stupid splint or feel fatigued. I’m healthy and young and eager for the next adventure when I read the books, and no amount of sightseeing will wear me down. And, well, if I do get worn out, there’s always a passage about a quiet café where I can sit and people watch.
These books let me know there’s more to the world than just a job or just school or just doctor visits and worry. Somewhere in the world, there’s somebody who’s resting her feet in a cool café with a view of the Alps in southern Germany.
Someday I want to be that person again.