Challenge #6: Summer is traditionally a time for “trips” or vacation travel. What travel memories does your summer hold? Indulge this week in remembering a trip or journey that you have taken. Do you have mementos of the trip to spark memories? Consider how your travels have influenced you and/or what new travel memories you are currently creating or planning? Celebrate by indulging this week in a related foreign film, book or food, for a trip (past or future). If you write or paint of it, use all of your senses to capture the experience. Record in your sketchbook any ideas, illustrations, or thoughts and share here on The Paper Compass.
I awake in my bed in suburban Boston, surrounded by memories of South Africa. They follow me throughout my morning routine like the wispy tendrils of remembered dreams. In the shower, I can see again in my mind’s eye the golden colors of the sun setting on the mountains behind the guest house in Swellendam. With this image comes the memory of the day at De Hoop (picture above), returning, the scent of Rooibos tea in a rose-patterned tea cup, and the sounds of sheep in the yard next door as twilight falls. Brushing my teeth, I recall the dusky light and oaky scent of the cave on our wine tasting in Stellenbosch. And at breakfast, I remember the feeling of planning our sight-seeing route, and the essence of grand adventure and newness that came with the start each day in Cape Town.
I look at the July calendar and understand—it is exactly three summers ago to the day that my brother and I joined my sister in South Africa after she had finished her study abroad program there. We traveled for ten days from Cape Town to Swellendam and back, days filled with bright vibrant memories and amazing things to see, taste, experience. Every year at this time, memories of the trip float to the surface of my mind and follow me throughout the day.
These pockets of memories that emerge every year on and around the exact travel date, are not just exclusive to my trip to South Africa. In June, I have memories of Segovia, cava, the squares of Madrid, and the site of my sister kneeling on the marble floors of the palace taking pictures of the painted and gilded ceilings. In mid-August, I think of the Seine, the flowers in Monet’s garden brilliant under a light rain, and cafes in Paris. There are other trips, large and small, local and foreign, forming a veritable travel guide of memories throughout the year but the most cherished and most exotic ones seem to be gathered in the traditional time of summer wanderlust.
These memories come from a place deeper than my active conscious. I am in awe of the map of memories that is held in our bodies, and its way of saying, Hello, I know this heat, this light, this time before. Remember the taste of the freshly baked chocolate éclair on that hot and dusty street in Paris? You are a Student of the World, there is much more to you than worrying about work emails and dirty dishes. Remember that.
I like to think that these embedded memories are similar to what author Sarah Ban Breathnach calls, in her book Simple Abundance, “anniversaries of the heart.” While that term embraces, respectively, much more intimate and emotional experiences than just times of travel, I like to think that, for me, the spirit of adventure that emerges on the anniversaries of these travel dates are small times of celebration—a time to enjoy a well of exotic memories and passionate experiences, beyond the pattern of my day-to-day life.
All this is inspiration for the Sixth Summer Challenge: Wanderlust. Summer is traditionally a time for “trips” or vacation travel. What travel memories or “anniversaries of the heart” does your summer hold?
Indulge this week in remembering a trip or journey that you have taken. Do you have mementos of the trip to spark memories? Consider how your travels have influenced you and /or what new travel memories are you currently creating or planning? Celebrate by indulging this week in a related foreign film, book or food, for either a trip past or future. If you write or paint of it, use all of your senses to capture the experience. Record in your sketchbook any ideas, illustrations, or thoughts and share here on The Paper Compass.