I’m sitting here in the Cologne/Bonn airport waiting for the flight to Split, Croatia, watching my lovely wife sleep. My wife is a sleeper, or maybe better yet, a snoozer. She falls fast asleep in buses, cars, trains, trolleys, movie theatres, airplanes and, apparently, airports. It is amazing to me how quickly she goes too. We’ll be sitting on the couch at home and within minutes of starting a movie I look over and her beautiful head is pitched back, eyes closed, mouth wide open. It’s one of those moments where time allows you to stop and reaffirm something important: I love this woman.
So here I am in this airport – one of many to come – and finally able to take a moment to stop and write for the blog. We have been going hard and fast ever since we touched down in Munich (Munchen, that is). And as our friend Mathias said more than once, “You can rest in Split.” We’re taking some time now, thankfully.
Traveling keeps you on your toes, of course. There is so much to see, so many vistas to experience, so many great foods to try, so many beverages to imbibe in (certainly the case in beer-friendly Munich). And since you don’t know when you will ever be back in the place you are exploring, there is a sublime desperation to it. It’s like you’re on a scavenger hunt and time is running short.
Time is running short. We’re three days into the trip and already I feel like it is going to be too short. I mean, we have something like 140 days left and already have this sense of conflict between what we want to experience and the time-intensiveness of travel. There’s just not enough time, as Mathias and I said to each other repeatedly over these last few days. Life is too short to miss opportunities due to fear and complacency. I’ve finally been able to ever-so-slightly wrap my head around this truth. It’s taken me 38 years to get here. But it’s good to be here nonetheless.
We are coming off, as I said above, a very full three days in Munich. Munich was never on our minds when thinking about our RTW, until about three weeks ago. Three weeks ago we were camping in Yosemite and met a German couple with whom we hit it off immediately. Then three weeks after that we’re sitting in their flat in Munich with the key to their house in our hands, commenting on how amazing it is to be in Munich three weeks later with their keys in our hands. When you think about it, it’s pretty cool – Mathias and Tanja were relative strangers and had only spent a combined four hours with us over three weeks. And here we were, sitting in their home, with the key to their flat. And I guess that’s what friends do, even if you’ve been friends a whole three weeks.
In our time with Mathias and Tanja we were spoiled. Seriously. I would wake up and there would be an amazing spread of cheeses, jams, meat, and bread on the table, and that after Mathias went to the bakery one morning – before heading off to work. Both of these people worked each day but found (made) time for us. Whether it was the Hofbrauhaus or the early morning drive to the airport – which they came in and saw us off after helping us with our flight arrangements – these friends extended to us real hospitality. And it made me think a lot about hospitality and how crappy I am at it. Had they come to our flat in San Francisco for three days I probably would have pointed them towards the cereal cabinet and waved in the direction of the nearby café. So I felt a little convicted and hoping I would do more than that. But I can’t say I would have after all. We don’t do hospitality too well in our fast-paced, individualistic culture. Waving them to the cereal and coffee shops, I would have thought I was doing them a favor: giving them independence and freedom from my meddling. But in reality, I realized, I would be isolating myself from them and missing out on some pretty rich moments of connecting as human beings. As I again discovered, stumbling through cultural differences can be pretty fun.
Cara and I hope Mathias and Tanja come to San Francisco, not only so that we can experience our part of the world with them but also so that we can extend the same hospitality they gave to us. And maybe, hopefully, through that we can further cultivate an authentic hospitality.
The flight for Split is ready to board. I need to go wake up my wife.