Posted by: scintillatingspeck | January 22, 2014

Travel Guide to Jen’s Soul, 2014 edition.


Earlier today, I spent a goodly amount of time on the tourism websites of 27 different states, submitting requests for their free, colorful visitor’s guides and maps.  These are the states through which I think Lily and I will be traveling on our epic adventure this summer.  (The above map is a first stab at an itinerary, subject to change.)  (And in case you are wondering, no, my Kickstarter project is not yet live… I’ve submitted it to the Kickstarter people for review and am awaiting the go-ahead from them, probably in the next day or two.)

The more I think about travel guides, the more I think the ones that are widely available will be the least useful to me, ultimately.  I’m sure I’ll be glad for some of the information, like where to find a campground, or where the closest lake to jump in is.  But more than that, I want to hear from the people with whom we’ll be visiting, observing the idiosyncratic maps of experience that they’ve assembled.  I’m sure they will have much to share.

But even they, who are all generous, kind, insightful loves, can’t provide me with that encyclopedic tome I most wish I could find on the library shelf: the Travel Guide to Jen’s Soul, 2014 edition.

What travel tips, what lush descriptions, what hidden gems would it contain in its 42,000 pages?

Let’s riffle through the pages, index finger at the ready, and select some passages at random.

“…and there, on that bluff in the Blue Ridge Mountains, you won’t want to miss the sight of Lily with her art supplies arrayed around her, intermittently drawing a picture and dashing off to climb a tree.  Notice how at home she is everywhere she goes.  You’ll think back to what it feels like to be a child, to the immediacy of the moment, and you’ll thank her for the teaching.”

“At this particular crossroads in the heart of west Texas, you’ll get a flat tire and call for help and have to wait a long time.  You’ll remember every flat tire you ever got and tell Lily the stories.  You’ll sing songs and eat all the snacks and get to know that one spot next to the road rather well.  You’ll feel impatient but want to model patience and you’ll talk yourself and Lily through the process of seemingly interminable waiting.  You’ll remember the fragility of our motorized transport systems.  You’ll feel the bigness of the distance you intend to traverse, and the smallness of the pebble under your left heel.  It will remind you of the absurdity of scale.”

“… at 1239 Larkspur Lane, in your host’s backyard at the impromptu party, you’ll shake hands with and look into the eyes of some congenial, curious folks, trying to smother the wave of shyness that comes over you.  Lily will be playing hide and seek with other children, running and giggling and occasionally pausing to eat fruit salad.  You’ll struggle to put words to your experience as the others ask you about your trip; you’ll stumble, reach for language, find it lacking, keep going.  They won’t notice; they’ll nod, and you’ll ask them questions about themselves, and just like that, you’ll see the threads being woven, some evanescent and perhaps a few enduring, and the warmth will radiate through your cheekbones and fingertips as you gesticulate and grin.”

No, this travel guide won’t be appearing in my mailbox, and it won’t be found in the travel section of any bookstore or library.

I’ll just have to write it.




  1. That is a great start to that travel guide and proposed route. The very best to you and Lily!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: