The title has nothing to do with what I'll talk about - I just heard Perfect Strangers on the radio this morning and it got stuck in my head.
While it was playing I was thinking about something that happened a couple weeks ago when I was in Thailand.
I've been to Thailand quite a few times. My first visit was in the late 80's as a sailor and then I've been at least once a year or more in the last 4 - 5 years. I've been enough times that it's become quite routine. I know my way around the airport. I have a rough idea of what the markets will be like in whatever city I visit, etc. This time I flew into Bangkok and then had a 2.5 or 3 hour drive to where I was staying.
During the drive I was fighting to stay awake - but what kept jumping out at me over and over was, "Wow - there are so many pickup trucks here!"
I'm willing to bet that the number of pickup trucks hasn't recently surged in Thailand. My guess is that the reason I noticed it so much this time is that it was my fist visit after living in Hungary for a while. Going from the US to Thailand, the number of trucks I see on the road would not be noticeable. But compared to here - it was on my mind for the whole visit. And I realized something for the first time. I love stuff like that. I think it may be the biggest reason I love to travel. I quickly become used to the environment that I'm in and start to filter stuff out. I don't consciously notice a lot of things around me after a while. I don't know what the proper term is for this - I'm sure some of you do. It's that whole idea that fish are unaware of water. I use to have a snippet of a poem I kept taped to my desk,
" Oh, where is the sea? " the fishes cried,
As they swam the crystal clearness through;
" We've heard from of old of the ocean's tide,
And we long to look on the water's blue. "
I long for experiences that knock me out of this numbness to my surroundings. I love seeing cool and exceptional things too - but even moreso I think - I love to just get an awareness of what I take for granted. I'm the same way with people. I love to have friends and conversations that force me to look at things differently. I don't like for everything to feel obvious. There is of course a limit. I have a co-worker who thinks very differently from me. Enough so that dealing with him can be a real chore. The chasm is too much to cross. He's another American - which is kind of funny. Most of my friends and the people I hang out with here are not. Same idea - I like what my Hungarian, Romanian, Albanian, and so on, friends bring to the mix.
At some point I expect I'll end up living in the US again. Honestly I'm not too crazy about the idea. I've really taken to Europe, and this part of it in particular. If I had my druthers I'd retire to Slovenia. Maybe somewhere not far from the farm where my great grandmother was born. But at some point my kids will head home to go to university and I'll head back. Maybe it will be more interesting as I'll have been gone long enough to make America new.
My last visit back I'd only been here a little over a year. So it wasn't such a big deal going back. It was a little annoying but not so much more than it was before I left. The in your face over indulgence that permeates so much of everything in the USA gets to me sometimes. But it's not like it wasn't that way before I left. It's just that much more obvious now that I've had a bit of a break from it. The insulation from the rest of the world is also difficult - but again - I was already aware of that before I moved. It's just now I get to be around more people who live lives that are connected and aware of others outside their own single context. (And that part isn't a critique of the USA alone. I've met Hungarians who are largely the same in that regard. They are not really aware of a whole lot outside Hungary and even moreso outside Europe. And they aren't interested.)
So I'm a bit of a junkie for these new experiences/view points. Probably part of why I enjoy the books I do as well.
Well - nothing deep and I'm sure nothing new. Just a glimpse in my head from my morning commute. The one Google Now told me about before I left my house. That deserves its own JE.