The Edges of the World
I didn’t have a globe from Isak Dinesen, but I had my father’s National Geographics. And I too marveled at those nations that no longer exist: Tanganyika, Siam, the Belgian Congo, Ceylon. And I too dreamed of traveling to them all.
My subconscious must have drawn me to this book. Sprung from the shelf like a magnet to my hand. I do not watch CNN. And yet, here in this book is a kindred spirit.
I sometimes come back. And find I can’t speak the language either. Too many choices. Paper or plastic? Pouty models hawking lipstick. He captures it. Right there.
When I was a child, I measured my life by comparing everything to living under a horse cart in India. With no knowledge of India. Or horse carts. My childhood self would matter of factly say, “Is it worse than living under a horse cart in India?” And, no, it never ever was.
Steamy tarmacs. Orphanages. Transport in the back of pickups. Roadside trash. Why would I want to go? Poverty. Beggars. Why wouldn’t I want to go? Mattresses tossed on a concrete floor. The makeshift airport. Mosquito nets. The sack of mail in the next seat. Fruits and vegetables for sale along the road. I want. To stand on the edge of the hurricane. To leap the fence. “The farther you go, however, the harder it is to return. The world has many edges, and it’s very easy to fall off.”