Methods of Travel—Part One...
“In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners.”
In planning my trip to Philadelphia these past few weeks, I was overcome with nostalgia for travel as a child. I recall not having to plan, not packing my own bags, not even thinking about my next meal. Mom and Dad would take care of all the devilish details. I could just sit in the backseat with the Prydain Chronicles and let them know when my stomach grumbled as we passed the ever-present Cracker Barrel signs. I wouldn’t even have to worry about myself or the animals getting car sick. Mom would give us our obligatory Dramamine dose. We would nap when we felt unnatural waves coming through the icy gray mountain roads of Tennessee, or sooner.
During this planning, I realized how incredible a gift that was our parents gave us as children. We could really enjoy the good parts of travel—the experiences, the vistas and landscapes, the short little forays into alien lands at rest stops, the smell of different trees burning in different fireplaces, the way rain felt different in Illinois then it did in South Carolina, the different Happy Meal toys found in the same boxes around the country. Are we able to slow down any longer and enjoy these little details of travel? Do we stop to savor small moments anymore? Or do we plan out every possible detail of our trips?
As intensive as my own planning might have been, I cannot even imagine the extent to which Pope Francis’ trip is planned. There must be a small army of people whose sole purpose is to plan for any imaginable contingency, to have backup plans, alternate routes, maps within maps. And that doesn’t even account for the security or transit concerns in large American metropolitan areas like the District of Columbia, New York City, or Philadelphia. Though I will get to reap the benefits of their thinking and caution in Philadelphia, I wonder, too, how much say Pope Francis himself has in such matters. What if the pope wants to stop at Tommy DiNic’s for a roast pork and broccoli rabe sandwich at the world-famous Reading Terminal Market? Does he have the option for such small pleasures?
Read more tomorrow in Part II…
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