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Words To Drive By Part 2

On Departure: Anticipation

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“A momentous but until then overlooked fact was making itself apparent: I had inadvertently brought myself with me…” (19).

In this first chapter of The Art of Travel, De Botton writes self-deprecatingly about a trip he took to Barbados. He laments a classic dilemma: sometimes it’s hard to appreciate something when it’s right there for you to enjoy, as if you can’t physically reach your destination until you clear your mind of cares.

De Botton compares his ennuie in a beautiful place to the novel A Rebours by J.K. Huysman, in which a French hermit/misanthrope suddenly yearns to visit London. He ventures to his local English tavern and reads Guide to London for a day, during which his enthusiasm quickly diminishes. He returns home, never to leave his villa again.

On my first day in California, I also experienced the hazards of…myself. A few tranquil hours that looked like this
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led me to discover, upon standing up, that I now looked like something I had recently considered eating:
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which led to further crabbiness the following morning, due to pinprick reminders that my legs had been with me during that tranquil afternoon, now blistered and on fire. The skin behind my knees wouldn’t stretch, so I navigated our rented room sporting bent legs, raised heels, and a grimace, looking remarkably like the faun character from “L’après-midi d’un faun”:
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For more musings about The Art of Travel, see the chapter on motives and curiosity.

[Photos: “Flying Solo” from bored now’s flickr photo stream, “Nijinsky dans L’Après-midi d’un Faune,” Jean-Pierre Dalbéra flickr photostream]

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