UNITED STATES—There are the two neighbors on either side of my house who suffer travelmania. There is the couple who went to Tokyo on the right side and, on the left, lives the couple who went to Dubai. That was just the last of a necklace of exotic destinations that are all a blur, Paris, Hawaii, Lisbon, Australia, Chile.
The travels give us something to talk about when taking the garbage cans out to the curb. Either they are coming or going, and I feel kind of lame; it’s not the same to tell them I went to Chatsworth, as to participate in that world travel. Altogether they have gone to so many places I couldn’t tell you where or which couple went. One thing is for sure, when they leave, a surly looking no-nonsense person comes with a key to their gate and walks their dog. This person has a key, but doesn’t need to be a neighbor. When this unapproachable dogwalker comes, I know one of the couples is off to some new point of the globe.
In the same way, I am infected by wanderlust when hearing about my neighbors’ travels and start dreamily mouthing the names of places I’d like to go. I wonder if the couples have infected themselves with the wanderlust? Soon the couple who went to Dubai is booking a trip to Tokyo. By then, the first couple who went to Tokyo is already jetting to Rio. And the mania goes on. The world could stand still but we homosapiens could keep spinning around it.
Let’s just pick a name out of a hat that would, by journeying there, hack away a huge part of the travel deficit I have suffered over the years as prisoner of Los Angeles. Costa Rica. I don’t care much for Costa Rica. Costa Rica has always seemed pasteurized Latin America for gringos; it’s like they want to go to Latin America and see only the monkeys.
Then again, it does give us something to talk about before we leave, “I’m going to Costa Rica,” next week. And when we get back, people ask, “How was Costa Rica?” Tell them, but not too much. People don’t want too much. Of course you can inflict them with the pictures of monkeys on your phone and make them pretend like they’re interested.
In all honesty, I do not envy the rollicking good times everyone is supposed to be having. That is a hallucination, given the touchy nature of relationships. The neighbors go to these foreign places, but there is still a clash of wills, envy, jealousy, boredom, annoying ticks, oh foibled humanity. I see them hugging in the happy seaside photos, drenched in a grenadine sunset, and think, ‘When is the breakup?’ Yet, I am still romantic enough to think they may last; they may be the real deal.
With my first wife, travelmania was the final straw. Not adultery. Not finances. Travelmania. My first wife continues to travel widely, two trips to India in three years, a week in China last year, a stop in Dubai. Hey, maybe she met my neighbors in the indoor ski run in Dubai.
Here’s what happened with us: she wanted to go back to Europe. I didn’t. My earlier fourteen-country-in-ten-days tour confirmed that I am happier living in a place than being a tourist. In a flash, I knew I was free to say no to the trip to Spain and Italy. I preferred not to go. She still went, and our relations frayed from there.
You know where I really want to go. Ivory Coast. Here in Hollywood I met a traveler who needed to be directed to the Metro Station. He was impressed that the name of his country, Ivory Coast, fell from my lips, as I wished aloud to go there. It was nice, better than travel, this smile received from a traveler on the streets of Hollywood.
Humorist Grady Miller is author of the “Late Bloomer,” (on Amazon), a compendium of Miller’s Hollywood humor.