Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Adventure is a State of Mind

Posting may be a bit sporadic this week. You see, I'm on my first real business trip for the Day Job. I say "real" because they've sent me an hour to the west and several hours to the north before (once crossing state lines to exotic Michigan... which looks oh-so-different from Indiana, geographically and culturally, but I don't really count those as trips. I did get a meal reimbursed on one, so maybe it counts, but the expense report for each had like two items. Hardly anything to write home about. I mean, it practically was home, so I'd just be writing to the same place I'm writing in. Wait... my head hurts.

Anyway, today finds me in exotic Juarez, Mexico. Okay, so maybe it's not super-exotic, but it's a lot different than Michigan from Indiana. They actually speak a whole 'nother language here. Can you believe there's anything outside of English? I know!

Okay, I'm being a bit facetious. I just honestly don't get out much. Plus, my knowledge of Spanish consists of random nonsensical words, learned either from random cab drivers while on vacation or Dora the Explorer. I assure you, backpack was not coming to the rescue when I'm tried to order my Subway sandwich at lunch. This is, coincidentally, evidence of my lack of adventurous spirit, I suppose. I go to Mexico and have Subway. I thought it was safe because I could point at the toppings. "Yeah, that. No, not that. No mas! Gracias." At least the chips were a slam dunk. Doritos is the same in Spanish. Who knew?

When Day Job informed me that I was being sent (at last second and probably great expense), I found myself equal parts reluctant and excited. Reluctant, because, let's face it, travelling sucks. Especially air travel these days. At 6'2", 220lbs... planes were not made for me. Honestly, if you killed me, boiled all the meat off my bones, and retrieved the femur from the pot... it would not fit if laid horizontally in an airplane chair. Perhaps a grotesque way of making a point, but there you have it. Planes and large people do not get along.

The writer in me was very excited, however. Any chance to visit a place heretofore un-visited is a golden opportunity. For instance, coming from Indiana, I don't get to see much geography. I'm guaranteed that pretty much any other locale is going to have more scenery than the amber waves of grain that I'm used to. In fact, some of you may have seen my tweet upon landing. Yes, I even found the rental lot majestic. (In my defense, the sun was silhouetting a large hill, and the coloring was that particular red, orange, purple color, that makes one stop and sigh. Only in the desert, it's, like, intense, yo. Like chose-the-wrong-grail-in-Indiana-Jones-and-the-Last-Crusade intense.) El Paso (just across the border, where I'm staying) is pretty much a city in the middle of a desert. I've not done a whole lot of desert travel in my lifetime, and the view from the plane alone netted me a whole bunch of imagery I'm banking for later.

Which brings me to the point of this article. I may be a terrible traveler, but as a writer, I cannot afford to be a hermit. An adventurous spirit seems to be a necessary part of writing, especially fiction. Fortunately, it doesn't mean you have to book a trip backpacking through outer Mongolia. Adventure is in the eye of the beholder. Every day is an adventure. Scenery is only what you make of it. A hill that excites me is probably completely boring to the El Paso native. The early morning border crossing is a complete chore for the average El Paso commuter, but for me it is fodder for a story about bank robbers (or something). A writer makes his own adventure, even on a stupid work trip when he's stuck in an office that's not all that dissimilar from the one he left miles away.

Here, at least, they call it El office, which makes it waaaaay more exotic.


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