While I know Thomas Wolfe was correct in saying "You can't go home again," that doesn't mean you can't try.
As you may know--I've been telling everyone within earshot for some time now--I'm leaving tomorrow (Tuesday) for Europe, arriving a mere fifty-four years, four months, and twenty-nine days after I first caught a glimpse of the Rock of Gibraltar rising from the sea-fog on the morning of my twenty-second birthday. It is a journey I've long looked forward to, the closing of a circle, in a way. And because I sincerely consider anyone who is kind enough to read my words to be a friend, I really would like to have you come along with me--albeit vicariously--on the journey.
So for the next month, my regular blogs here will be replaced by a sort of running commentary on my adventures. I'll also be posting pictures as often as I can. (As to the pictures, I do not intend to be in any of them. Call it a perverse form of narcissism or simply and more accurately my refusal to accept reality. I refuse to see or to acknowledge in any way the old man I have become. I shall be looking out of a young man's mind, my nose pressed against the impenetrable glass wall of time, trying to catch glimpses of myself so very long ago, and I hope you might share what I see.)
It will all be somewhat sporadic, I'm sure, depending on how frequently I'm able to post, whether the hotels I'll be staying at have Wi-Fi, etc.. And because of the time difference between Europe and the U.S., I have no idea at what time they will show up. I do hope that you may want to check in from time to time, and will depend on your flexibility and good nature as to when you might do so.
On the first two legs of the trip, London and Paris, I'll be accompanied by my best friend, Gary, who will return to London from Paris while I go on the rest of the journey by myself. Well, I won't exactly be by myself if I know you're there with me. (I know, it's all a game of pretend, but it's a game I started playing as a child and have never tired of.)
While my anticipation level is very high, I'm well aware that I am no longer the same young sailor I was during my first visit. And I know things have changed as well. I know the hotels I stayed in in Paris and Rome are no longer there, nor, probably, is the little jetty on the beach in Cannes with which I so strongly associate my most cherished memories of my first time. But that won't stop me from trying to find where it was, and from standing on this side of the thick glass wall of time, hoping to catch a glimpse of myself on the other side.
Other than an insignificant 55-year gap, there will be a few other major differences between then and now. One of the primary pleasures of visiting other countries is being exposed to and indulging in all kinds of wonderful food: a pleasure which will largely be denied me. (It's been eight years now since my successful treatment for tongue cancer, and eight years since I've been able to eat normally. Eight years and I still cannot comprehend it...could you? Try.) Because I rely mainly on liquid nutritional supplements for the bulk of my nourishment and won't be able to carry all I'll need with me, I suspect I'll be "snacking" frequently, which means spending a lot of time in coffee houses that offer appetizers (which are, to me, the equivalent of full a full meal), and I'll try to find those places that provide internet connections. It'll largely be something of make-it-up-as-I-go-along thing until I can work out some sort of pattern. Well, it's just all part of the fun.
And it's partly because, while I can no longer eat as I once could, I only have to close my eyes to taste--really taste--a Genoa salami sandwich with crisp lettuce on mayonnaise-and-mustard-slathered pumpernickel bread, that I will, in many ways, really be able to "go home again" to that Europe of so many years ago. I hope you'll come share the journey with me.
New entries are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. In the meantime, you're invited to visit my recently-revised website at http://www.doriengrey.com, or drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear from you.