"Like many people who grew up in small, gray-skied working-class towns (Cook, D. H. Lawrence, Geoff Dyer, to name a few), I’d always wanted to travel. It was the most obvious means of escape possible, and seemed like the cure for everything: small town, small life, sad family. My mom was a nurse, my dad a pastor, and both were depressed, which seemed at odds with their caregiving jobs. I was told that helping others gave purpose to life, yet the people who taught me this suffered painfully from a sickness defined by meaninglessness. He talked around the edges of suicide. She withdrew. I planned to get away. But I couldn’t just go. Unlike in most of the travel books I read and loved, in life there were practicalities to consider. I needed contact lenses and birth control. I needed to pay back my student loans. I needed cash. So — again, like Cook — I became a tour guide."
"I was thinking of taking a trip, though I didn’t have any money. Fortunately, the travel section of a college library is a terrible place to plan a vacation."
"My mom has the same restlessness, a symptom of anxiety, for which she joined a support group. They have a phone tree, and when one of them is anxious they call one of the others. These calls have become a source of great anxiety for my mom."
"Hi, neighbor! Heard you're going on a vacation soon?"
"Yeah, we're going to Rome - I can't wait! But you just got back from vacation, where'd you go?"
"Oh, we just stayed in town - but we took a drive over to the north end of town one day and discovered this lady who runs a zither museum out of her living room and it was a total blast!"
"....We have a zither museum in this town? Since when???"
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