Would you rather have experiences and no memories, or memories and no experiences?
A trip can seem like a dream once it's over. There are all the details – the food and the weather (always acutely noted by a Canadian traveler), the alligators and lime-green McLarens, and all that. But it isn't until I'm home that I realize how much else was different. There are some things I don't really notice until I've left them behind, and these can be really hard to describe. I suppose this is what art can do.
Between Miami Beach, Little Havana, the sleepy ocean-suburbs, the Wynwood Art District, the Everglades, and all the places in between, I crossed paths with a wide medley of life in my week down in Florida. The landscape, the culture, the lack of culture, the waiting-for-death-like-the-UPS-man.
On Saturday I was buying groceries at the humble Kitchener Market, and felt there couldn't be a more opposite place in the world from Miami Beach.
In Miami Beach, people put on their most beautiful masks and for all the outward noise they're making as they downshift their Lamborghini Aventadors down Collins Avenue, everyone quietly agrees to play this elaborate game of show & tell. There's not much behind it and it could fall apart pretty easily if people stopped playing. But that's a judgmental thing to write. The Miami Beach high life is one way of living and for however long you can make it last, it's a pretty nice way to pass the time.
On the other hand, the Kitchener Market is a place where the extent of luxury is that vendors use tables for their broccoli and apples and potatoes and bread, simply because tables are a bit more convenient than stooping over to pick things up off the floor. The luxuries end there, yet it's a beautiful place.
There are so many ways we can live our lives and it can be tempting to put Miami Beach on one end of a spectrum and the Kitchener Market on the other (as it seems I've just done) and load up the whole model with morals and superiorities. But that's not right.
We all have our fantasies, our stories we tell ourselves about the world, and in the end there isn't a right one and wrong one; some fantasies are just more resilient than others. More can change without them falling apart, leaving you writhing in the cold morning light. Okay, that's a bit extreme, but you get the picture.
One of the reasons I think a calendar-week spent traveling can feel like a month according to our normal time scale is because our normal lives don't have nearly as much rich chaos in them. The new food, the getting lost, the rich relationships we form... it's tempting to sort them neatly into the baskets that our world already has in it, and if there isn't one yet, then to morph the experience into something that fits neatly into one of our baskets.
Much more difficult is to create a new basket, and even more difficult still is being okay with some things fitting into no basket at all, and still letting them be special and real.
Keeping a blog like this to recount my experiences can be dangerous because things need to start making just enough sense for me to write them in my haphazard way, and that's just enough sense-making to turn something real into something easily retrievable.
But I hope that being able to share a bit of this with you makes it worthwhile and maybe there's just enough chaos in this writing to keep a bit of the spark in these memories, so hopefully I've not done too much harm. Thanks for following me on this journey, and I hope to be on one soon again with you.