Thoughts on American Travel

I have a hard time remembering what traveling was like before 9/11, but scooting around Europe certainly has helped me rediscover what I loved about jetting off to new places.

Now most of my travels have been in the United States, but they’ve been varied. I’ve driven more than 2,500 miles on at least a half dozen trips. And when I lived in San Francisco, I was on planes to LA, Austin, Cincinnati, Chicago, New York City, Las Vegas, Seattle, Portland and more places than I care to remember. I few Southwest Airlines exclusively. I booked online including the Ultimate Town Car Airport Shuttle which is quicker and easier than a cab. I used the company’s credit card. Every fourth trip, I got a free flight somewhere.

I lived in Berkeley, a short shot to the Oakland airport, and I’d be off on a moment’s notice.

After the attacks, our nation shut down (although I’ll make no judgments on the rightness or wrongness of this). Travel became…hard. Tedious. Through check points. Unpack everything. Wait here. What was once a great joy became dreadful.

Soon after I moved to Texas in 2004, I stopped flying domestically almost completely. If I couldn’t drive, I couldn’t go. There were exceptions, of course. Hell, I flew to Berlin to see John in December 2006 (although my connection through NY’s JFK ranks as the second worst experience of my life; now when I travel internationally I get the hell out of the U.S. as quickly as possible and deal with the passports overseas).

But the ease, the joy and the excitement of traveling was gone. Replaced by something heavier. Something more somber.

Now I’m sitting in a plane as I write this, 30,000 feet over France (I think) on my way to Liverpool. I took a metro and a train to the airport, which was — even in a different language — somehow more humane than any Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) metro I ever took. And I’m excited.

To be in England. By myself. Roaming the country.

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This newsletter is the outgrowth of The Downtown Writers Jam podcast. What that means is I will collect information about the authors I interview, book happenings around the Web, and other literary events that I find interesting. Without you, I'm just a crazy guy sitting in his office furiously screaming on the page for no reason.
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