Jan 16, 2006

The Goldman family stood me some vegan soup and Chardonnay in the Peacock Room after the wedding. Many of these kindly people were concerned that I might be single, following my over-frank speech last night.

No, no. I have an Inappropriate Beau. He's in Sydney, starting a six-month, round-the-world trip.

This information elicits gasps of shock and horror, wherever it's unveiled. “How do you manage?” people say, patting my shoulder. “You're so wise and mature to let him go!”

What, exactly, was the alternative? Casting myself on the runway? Or, less literally: curtailing his dream, when my own are so large and geographically ambitious?

I'm no martyr. Just a travel writer able to tolerate I.B.'s walkabout, because I'll have plenty too.

I return to my suite and curl up with Road Angels. This serendipitous second-hand-bookstore find offers much comfort.

Kent Nerburn writes: "I've watched the light go out of too many of my friends' eyes as their lives turned from a crazy garden of weed and wildflowers to a well-manicured lawn. I'm not ready for that yet. I need 'bears behind trees' – surprises in life that are bigger than a plugged sewer line or an unexpected finance charge on my credit card ... If I don't have them, my life becomes just a long-term maintenance project.."

And so he leaves Minnesota to chase old dreams along America's left coast. He does it for himself, but also for his wife and child. "The only way I can assure that they will get the man they deserve is to blow out the pipes now and then. And the best way I know to do that is to set off on a journey into the unknown. It takes some of the spiritual shrimpiness out of my soul and makes me humbler, more appreciative, and less cynical. In some indefinable fashion, it keeps me young."

Aha! I knew my tolerance had a deeper source than ballast for my future trips. Clearly I.B. is on a sojourn of spiritual de-shrimping.

Let no woman stand in the way, however much it sucks to be sans date at a wedding...


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