Tales of a 21st Century Gypsy

September 28, 2004 The more I travel...

The more I travel, the more I love New York.

I went into this travel venture with the thought of looking for the next place to settle down for a while. Iíve looked at a few places, and a smaller few seem like nice places to be. Marquette, Michigan is a small town, but it has much of what I like Ė water, coffee, bookstores, liberals. Madison, Wisconsin is bigger and has more of all of it. Minnneapolis is an excellent city, bikeable, cosmopolitan, dynamic. Even Milwaukee is plausible. But I canít see any real reason why I would stay in any of them. All they do is strengthen my connection to New York Ė not because New York objectively is any better than the other places, but simply because it is New York.

Perhaps I simply am like everyone I have met on the way Ė I want to go back to where I came from, because it feels right to me. Itís not about the objective characteristics of any place. Itís that subjectively I consider the place I grew up to objectively be the best, if that makes any sense. My values in place have been defined by where I grew up, so it best suits my values. Itís tautological.

Of course not everyone feels that way about their ďhome town.Ē Marcia in Marquette rejected what she perceives as the rigidly narrow Christian intolerance of the community in which she was raised, in favor of a more flexible and open community. But where I grew up is flexible and open Ė at least I see it that way.

Iím sitting in this splendid isolated part in the Badlands, buffalo grazing on the hillsides around the campsite and an amazing silence settling in when night falls. When I decide to drive out of here, though, I want it to be to New York, not to Wall, South Dakota. Of course Iím nowhere near ready to stop traveling. But it could be that when I do, it will be to trade my house in Virginia for a small apartment in New York, not a cottage in Marquette or a house in Minneapolis or a double-decker in Madison. Just maybe.

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