Travelling Has Two L’s

A wise traveller never despises his own country. -Carlo Goldoni

home1In the past I may have frustrated fellow language nerds with my spellings of ‘travelling/travelled/traveller,’ using two L’s. This is a purposeful decision, though that explanation alone may not calm the most extreme logophiles.

It has taken a while to teach my iPhone to add an extra L; hopefully it won’t take quite as long to explain to you. Then perhaps you will join hands with me, and we will become activists of language, and we will convince Mr. Webster himself or his descendants or whoever runs the dictionary now and we will convert our nation to the Double-L System.

home4I like to dream big.

Here’s my short reason: uhh…it’s just better.

Now join me! Let’s change the world! You may have to do some travelling to get to the DLS National Convention in the boonies of Montana. Since I’m head of the project I get to choose the location.

Travelling.

There’s something thicker and bolder about ‘travelling,’ as though it is capable of holding more experience. It’s courageous in a hardy, rugged, Go-West-Young-Man kind of way.

It also seems to be an older form of the word (probably just because it’s a British spelling. Don’t judge; I like British English. And all things old.)

I am currently writing from Wareham MA (more on that later) but before two days ago I hadn’t done much travelling in about six weeks. I was ‘in limbo,’ chillaxing at home and preparing for the next major transition of my life: THE REAL WORLD (queue music which expresses hardship and impending doom).

home3However, if you know me, I refuse to give in to the norms of what life is ‘supposed to be,’ so to spice up my transition into THE REAL WORLD, at which everyone from random person on the phone from tech support to the UPS delivery guy have been not-so-subtly hinting at for many months now, … I am moving to a place I have never been before. That way, I can ‘settle down’ (for a bit) and ‘travel’ all at the same time: new sights, new people, new coffee shops to test new chai, new parks to run new routes.

I’m still on the job hunt, so hit me up if you know anyone in the greater Seattle area who needs help with words. Or anything related to words.

home2I like words.

Travelled.

.past tense//a state of being.

.I travelled//I am travelled.

I had three goals during my six weeks at home: sleep, ride horses, spend time with family and friends because Seattle may or may not eat me alive and maybe I will never come back and then at least they will have fresh memories of times we spent together.

I doubt that, but really, who knows when I’ll be back in the 406. (That’s Montana, for you Out-of-Staters. There are few states in the Union that use one area code for all their inhabitants, and we’re proud to be one of them.)

Fact of the Day: According to the 2013 US Census, Montana has approx. 29,000 less people than Rhode Island, the smallest state.

I would like to announce that I am fully caught up on sleep. If you are curious about yourself, use the car test: if you can stay awake in the passenger seat for more than 10 minutes in ideal temperatures with a warm fall sun on your face, then you have successfully recovered from all those college all-nighters.

Mom and I found our old horse trails and biked our way up and down the valley, and Dad and I ‘took our guns out for a walk.’ We also attended a number of rodeos.

home7Routine. That thing I have not had since April. That mysterious thing that is so peaceful and so suffocating at the same time. It is a benefit of staying in the same city for more than four nights in a row, which I did not do from the middle of May to the end of August, except a short stint in Haiti. Routine is a benefit of being home.

Home routine is: wake up at the same time every day, so my body can be on a normal sleeping and eating schedule. Workout six times a week. Feed the horses and chickens twice each day. Relax in the evenings.

Traveller.

A traveller can find joy in rest, and peace in routine.

And then there’s the stranger routines that develop: Mom and I decided to test our workout progress by hiking Goat Mountain once a week four weeks in a row. I discovered if I jog the flatter parts I can shave my time down almost to 35 minutes.

home6A traveller has more blood than a traveler. More music. Like the troubadours of old.

A traveller has more focus on the journey: the 35 minutes instead of just the peak.

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‘Always’ Is a Strong Word

For indeed now it feels not like going, but like going back.                                                   -C. S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

The last few weeks I feel as though I have been always on the road, always travelling, always moving. In a week and a half at the beginning of July, the General and I spent 32 hours flying over the familiar highways of Wyoming and Montana, like a time machine taking us back through flashing memories to the Home Place and old friends.

drive1My big farewell from living in Seward NE for four years was finally spending Independence Day in Nebraska’s Fourth of July City. After two big roadtrips it was fun to see so many familiar faces on the streets of Seward. Many of these streets were closed off to house a massive car show, carnival rides, dance performances, and hundreds of vendors and craftsmen spread out across the lawn of the city courthouse.

I walked around most of the day with newlyweds Matt and Maddy, watching our friend Brandon in a pole vaulting competition and viewing the extensive parade from a professor’s lawn with scores of other Concordians. In the evening many local friends threw house parties and barbecues, so I bounced around from one to another until it was time for fireworks.

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Cousins visit the Bitterroot

The fireworks show was incredible–perhaps the best I have ever seen. Lasting over 20 minutes, the lights flooded the sky in large flashing booms above thousands of people lying on blankets in Plum Creek Park. They also shot off an impressive ground show, sending out a simultaneous wave of radiating light from below.

After the professional show, Maddy, Matt, and I lit off a few of our own fireworks before I party-hopped again until the wee hours of the morning, bidding everyone farewell. It was everything I had imagined for a Seward Fourth, the perfect sendoff.

Bucket List: Participate in a Seward Fourth, check!

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Rodeo in Sheridan WY

My inspirational nomadic friend Bridget surprised me by asking if she could crash on my couch on the night of the 6th on her way back home to Montana–interestingly enough, I was planning on leaving the following morning myself for our Home Place in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. Welcome to Part 2 of the Jarvite Gypsy’s caravanning experience! This trip went smoothly, mainly because we agreed on a GPS route to use at the beginning of the excursion. Florida lesson learned–the beauty of piling excursions atop one another is the rapid rate of acquiring knowledge about such essential details.

We were also excited about the 80mph speed limits all the way across the state of Wyoming!

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Rodeo with Bridget

We happened to be staying in Sheridan WY the night before the opening day of the largest rodeo in the Mountain Circuit! So before driving out on the 9th, Bridget and I took an short detour to watch some calf roping.

Bucket List: Watch a rodeo in Wyoming, check!

All of this placed me in the Bitterroot in time for the Missoula Half Marathon, which I have run for the past four years. I think I’m going to make this a tradition!

drive15After a brief stay at the Home Place with the cousins who flew in the day after I arrived (I was able to squeeze in a hike between my arrival and theirs; it’s impossible for me to be in Montana for more than a few hours without hitting the trails), our family packed up the speedboat and headed to Bigfork MT.

We spent some time with my grandparents the first day, and then took the boat out on Flathead Lake the next day, though it started out cold and cloudy. It took us a little while to find a spot that wasn’t too choppy for wakeboarding, in Woods Bay on the northeastern side of the lake. Nearby were the Raven and the Sitting Duck restaurants on the lake, complete with boat docks for parking on the lakeside.

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View of Flathead Lake from the Sitting Duck

The weather warmed up when the sun came out later in the afternoon, and my wakeboarding was perhaps some of my best ever, even though I haven’t been out in two years. Of course we broke out the tube for a while before the day was over. We had an awesome stay at the Marina Cay Resort, on the mouth of the Swan River where it flows into Flathead Lake, and includes a pool, outdoor restaurant, tiki bar, and often live music, as well as a giant chess set!

drive13

Happy birthday, bud

On the 15th I drove from Bigfork to Bozeman, which I have recently termed the Promise Land. My friend Elias was turning 21 that day, and I made it in time to go to Bridger Brewery with him for lunch.

drive12The rest of the weekend included a barbecue and Bozeman’s Music on Main on Thursday and a concert on Friday, as well as going downtown three nights in a row.

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Palisade Falls

No trip is complete without some time in the great outdoors and catching up with a few friends: Will took me on a hike up to Palisade Falls near the Hyalite Reservoir. Naomi showed me her new gypsy van which she will be taking down to New Mexico in a few weeks.

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Hyalite Reservoir

I also went for a few morning runs on some of my favorite paths: Pete’s Hill, which offers a gorgeous view of the city, especially at sunrise or sunset; the Sourdough Trail, which cuts through a few neighborhoods and Graf’s Park south of town near the Museum of the Rockies, and feels like a tiny patch of untouched wilderness; and the Gallagator Trail, which cuts across the city from Kagy in the south by the museum to the public library on Main Street, and is dog- and cyclist-friendly.

drive7All of these places, Sheridan, Hamilton, Bigfork, Bozeman: all are familiar, either because they were past homes or favorite stops on past roadtrips. I have been going to so many new places recently that I almost forgot what it was like to see a place for a second time. New memories are made, not to replace the old ones, but to layer atop them and make them richer. Old places do not get used up: there are always more experiences to be had.

‘Always’ is a strong word: but when you get itchy feet as often as I do, that strength is enticing, drawing forward in the crisp novelty of the moment or back in timeless memories to the place where it all began.

I Failed Italy?

“Travelling opens the mind.” -Blue Is the Warmest Color

 5.7

I was on the public bus one morning while going to school and a woman yelled, ‘Mamma Mia!’ when the bus stopped suddenly and another woman fell on top of her. I smiled. I didn’t know Italians actually said that.

Itali5.1ans really do talk with their hands, too. We even learned important hand gestures in class one day. Thanks to this helpful and informative picture my friend Maddy sent me, I learned how to communicate clearly. I laughed out loud whenever my host mom Cristina made this same face and gesture.

And Italians really eat pasta with every meal, but here they do it ‘backwards’: pasta is the appetizer, and the salad is the main course.

Also the mafia still actively exists.

That was news to me.

5.5

My host mom, Cristina, and I sat down for a talk before I left Italy.

‘I guess I failed at this semester,’ I said. ‘I’m not Italian.’

When I first arrived in Florence and began to observe the lives around me, I said to myself: ‘If, by the time I leave in December, I don’t nap in a park on warm afternoons, I don’t eat tomatoes with every meal, and walking face-first into someone still makes me cringe, then I will have failed Everyday Life in Tuscany 101.’

There were two ways to mix with the Florentine crowd: act like a local or act like a tourist. Either way you blend in with half of the population. I did both, depending on my mood, but trying to be local as often as possible. I had Italians ask me for directions on a few occasions, so that counted toward big bonus points I think. The tourist population died down by the end of October, then picked up again in early December as Christmas season began to roll around and the blissfully magical Christmas markets rolled out in Piazza Santa Croce.

5.2I waited until that break in tourism to climb the duomo and the bell tower. I stood for a long time at the top, memorizing my beloved and now-familiar city as much as possible. I was able to pick out many of the places I had frequented and explored.

I also saw the city stretching away to the northwest, beyond the Santa Maria Novella train station and the canal that runs from Piazza Liberta to Cascine Park, the area I had sadly left unexplored. I saw thousands of buildings, and treetops scattered here and there like weeds poking up between towers of windows and arches, showing where the numerous city parks were located.

5.8With only two days left in the semester, I finally ventured in that direction. I sat in a park just beyond the extent of my previous wanderings. I looked back towards the city center, the Oltrarno, Gavinana, Bagno a Ripoli, Fiesole, and all of the city which lay between these areas.

‘I need to come back,’ I said to myself. ‘I haven’t seen it all yet.’

Not being able to do everything I wanted to was perhaps the most difficult realization I had to deal with before leaving Italy.

And yet, exploring never ceases. If I’ve been in Florence four months and haven’t ‘seen it all,’ what of the tens of thousands of other cities in the world?

5.6

So. The semester is over. Did I fail?

Well, I’m not Italian, and I never will be. If that was my goal, then yes, I flunked study abroad.

But I did nap in a park, and I eat tomatoes all the time now. Slathered in pure olive oil when possible.

Some Americans complain about our country and wish we were more like someone else’s country. I found just as many Italians who wished their country was different as well. And I have found Americans who aren’t fans of Italy and vice versa.

5.3The truth is, whether or not I would like to be Italian, or whether or not I tried to be Italian, I am American. I was born on American soil. I was raised with a certain perspective, with certain freedoms and rights, and with a certain political system. Had I been born somewhere else, I only hope I would still have the opportunity to explore other parts of the earth as I am now.

For the moment, I’m glad to be back on American soil. Today I walked around barefoot all day, I heard a sermon in English, I opened the curtains in my bedroom and the living room, I drove my truck. It’s not better, it’s just what I’m used to. This is America to me. This is where my roots find suitable soil.

That certainly doesn’t mean my travelling days are over. In fact, I have had multiple opportunities open up for the next seven months, so I have decided to keep this blog open in case anyone is curious what the Jarvite Gypsy is going to be up to, Lord willing.

Travelling is broadening perspective, learning empathy and grasping the humanity of mortal life.

Perhaps I didn’t fail too hard.

5.9