By Joycelyn Moody - JMoody's Musings
It’s actually still midsummer, but for those of us on the academic clock, time to break away is nigh. A change of scenery, however you can seize it, can bring a vital breath of fresh air. So before your semester starts or kicks into full gear, I’m thinking new inspiring, invigorating scenery is in order.
What do you need?
For starters, a public library card. I live in San Antonio—a vast metropolis with a wide network of public library branches, but maybe it’s not exceptional in its offer of digital and virtual as well as print texts including pulp fictions. Check ’em out. Next up to get a new view: a fit-enough body. (More on physical needs below.) Disposable income doesn't hurt, but you probably need less than you think. Essential requirements: self-trust, curiosity, an open heart, appetite and wanderlust, more humility than judgment, a supple—not obstinate—attitude. Just generating that list starts a tug in me.
When to go?
As far as I’m concerned, we're already running late. Anyway, it’s always time to go. This disposition is insane for a number of reasons, starting with I have the worst sense of direction of anyone you know. Like really, stepping off an elevator, for example, you know how one direction leads into the hotel lobby and the other to a dead-end mirrored wall? I invariably walk into the mirror. You can bet on it 99 percent of the time. It’s sad, really.
So, you would think my wanderlust would be like lukewarm. No. In fact, I’ve recently returned from two states in Brazil—Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais. It was my first trip to Latin America—which is saying something given that I currently live three hours from the Mexican border and I grew up on the Gulf of Mexico. It was an extraordinary experience, to say the least, one that’ll take a long time to process what I learned in both formal and informal professional settings. Expect to hear more about it here, from time to time.
I went to Brazil to participate in the annual symposium of the International Auto/Biography Association of the Americas. A small conference: about 70 artists, educators, and other intellectuals gathered to speak the same language; in our case, not Portuguese but life writing. A thrill to catch up with long-time colleagues and to meet newbies to our circle. Abstracts shared loud, expanded from the print iteration.
Back to the body. Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais reminded me vividly of accessibility limits in New York City my vertigo and I negotiated there last June. So, whatever your ability level, I advise calling ahead to make sure your needs are accommodated at each planned site; scope out transportation options beforehand; don’t be afraid to ask for what you need to make your visit stress free; and scour the web for relevant reviews.
Can’t get to Brazil or out of town at all? Here are five budget-friendly scenery-changing possibilities.
1. Public library card: books on travel, travel writing, transnational and decolonial literature.
2. Outdoor FaceTime. Call a friend who lives in a different climate or region. Check out the interior of a friend’s new home in a distant city.
3. Evening and/or Sunday drives: Sweet Lorraine (my newly irrevocable spouse—gulp) and I drive the 45 minutes to Canyon Lake and eat bad fried food at a seaside café. Sometimes we silently—intuitively—make a pact not to talk much the whole way there and maybe back, too. Glorious time and space to daydream, follow one thought to another. Sure-bet return: harmony and equilibrium restored.
3. Ditto for a short drive into Texas Hill Country vineyards. Boo and I both sample just enough wines to be able to drive home unless the mood strikes for an impromptu overnight.
4. Like your library card, most cities and towns offer public transportation to local museums.
5. Some public transportation routes will also take you to a nearby nature preserve, a city park, or a tourist attraction (think roller coaster or Ferris wheel if a carousel doesn’t shift your gears fast enough).
Looking ahead to fall travel, I’m crazy-excited about our upcoming WellAcademic Fall Retreat. I know firsthand the rejuvenation that comes from breaking away with other writers and thinkers. Good talk, good food, peace for reflection, stunning scenery all await. Come join us!
I’d love to hear about any of your happy travels. Please share in the comments below.
Until next time,