The Road Retaken, and Thus Seen Anew

Any traveler is aware of {that a} journey isn’t just concerning the encounter of a brand new place however, equally, a journey into the self; and that the extra overseas the place, the extra profound the journey. In our recollections, a visit turns into a sequence of small, vivid moments, generally mysterious for his or her obvious banality. (One among my enduring recollections of my first journey to New Delhi is a clot of brightly coloured tinsel I noticed tangled round a phone wire — at night time, because the van I used to be in hurtled down the darkish, smoky streets, its sudden presence, shifting within the humid air, appeared to vow each merriment and malevolence.)

Our expertise of a spot turns into inseparable from our recollections of who we have been on the time. After I consider Luang Prabang, Laos, for instance, I keep in mind sure sights, sure sounds, the dampening, enervating warmth, but in addition the particular person I used to be: somebody in her early 30s, making an attempt always to cover how timid she was.

For this problem, we requested three writers to revisit a spot that they had seen once they have been anyone else. The poet Louise Glück famously and superbly wrote that “We take a look at the world as soon as, in childhood. / The relaxation is reminiscence.” And whereas that’s normally true, it’s not fully so, and definitely not for Thomas Web page McBee, who returns to the Grand Canyon, a spot he’d not been to since childhood, and which he sees once more as an grownup, in his eleventh yr on testosterone, in a distinct physique, but in addition the identical one — the identical blood, the identical bone. It’s not fully true, both, for Maaza Mengiste, whose return to Mount Pilatus exterior of Lucerne, Switzerland, is a chance to mirror on her final journey there, additionally in childhood, that resulted within the lack of each her innocence and her mom’s.


And it’s most definitely not true for Aatish Taseer, whose grand but intimate re-encounter with Istanbul is a reckoning with town’s revolutions — from rigorous secularism to populist ethnonationalism and religiosity in simply 15 years — and his personal, as nicely. As Taseer writes, when he was final within the metropolis, he was an aspiring author who had simply stop his job as a reporter; he was residing in London however on his means residence to India; he was homosexual (although not but out to himself) however relationship a lady. Why did he come again, he wonders, now as an virtually 40-year-old New Yorker with a husband: “Was it to look once more at what had grow to be of me? Was it to make use of the thought of returning to a spot one has recognized intimately because the means to journey not merely by way of house but in addition by way of time — to revisit a former self, maybe even to confront him?”

He can’t reply, however the reader may be capable to on his behalf. In any case, we journey for a similar motive we learn: to remind ourselves of the existence, and additionally the inexplicability, of different lives, to acknowledge ourselves inside that which is overseas to us. We’re one particular person once we start a visit, or a e-book or an article; we’re one other particular person once we conclude it. One other particular person, but in addition the identical — we take the journey to see ourselves.

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