Maybe that's because this is the closest I ever get to taking a proper vacation. I've never been very good at vacations. I've never mastered the art of rest and relaxation. People who have will tell you that, yes, it truly is an art. I have no desire to sink my toes into a white-sand beach in Bermuda and quaff a rum-based drink while saying something like, "Now this is the life!" I've been to the European Union a few times. I've looked at their old-time buildings and sipped their strong coffee. They're doing some good things over there. But I do not have a try-and-stop-me need to return. If I go back, fine. If not: also fine.
A few years ago, when I was still going out on a lot of dates, the first or second thing a date would often say to describe herself would be this: "I just love to travel!!!!!!!!!!" And I would always think, Well, I don't, while using all of my powers of concentration--and I mean all of my powers--to mitigate the frown that was attempting to unfold across the lower half of my face. (Yes, I was a joy to go out on dates with, ladies.)
Whenever someone shows me photos of their travels--"Here's Linda and me outside the Louvre!!!!!"--or worse still, when he or she shows me the glossy brochures and/or websites of the places that they intend to travel to, I immediately start banging pots and pans together hoping that the din will eventually drive this person away.
Part of the problem is that I've traveled an awful lot over the last 10 years. At one point I logged enough frequent flier miles to routinely qualify for first-class seats on American Airlines. I also recently relocated from one city to another (and, to go a step further, one country to another), which makes me still feel a bit like a vacationer in my new city. Fact: I need a passport to get into, and out of, my new country. Also: I lived in New York for 15 years, which is so massive and diverse that I always felt a bit like a tourist there. Even after 15 years, I could still get lost there, could still find myself wandering around and scratching my head, could still discover streets and even entire neighbourhoods that I'd never seen before. You can live in New York City for your entire life and never quite take in the scope of the whole damn thing.
The second part of the problem, which isn't really a problem at all, is that I enjoy what I do for a living. I love my job and the people who I work with to such an extreme degree that I never really feel any desire to take a time-out from it or from them. I have no desire to stick pins into a voodoo doll that looks like my boss; I don't spend a lot of time saying things like: "Barry in Accounts is just about the biggest asshole I've ever met in my life." For me, work days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, and suddenly it seems like it's always January and we're doing it all over again.
Also: as is evident from the last few days in Toronto, there is never a shortage of hotels or airports in my life. So there's always the feeling that I'm perpetually on vacation, even when, technically speaking, I'm not.
A few places I wouldn't mind being dragged to: the Mohonk Mountain House in the Catskills, because it's a big, shambling Overlook-like hotel, which is equal parts beautiful and creepy; Bruges, Belgium, mostly because I liked the Martin McDonagh movie an awful lot; and Copenhagen, Denmark because I was there once in the mid '90's and, of the few places I visited in Europe, Copenhagen is the one I want to return to, namely because 1. it was a bit mysterious, 2. it was filled with tall people, 3. Tivoli Gardens is the closest I will ever come to actually being inside Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.
Now before you start banging pots and pans in my direction, which you have every right to do after the hypocritical nature of the previous paragraph, here's today's selection of artwork, carefully selected from the gallery that is room 2011 here at the Marriott Residence Inn in downtown Toronto.
TODAY'S ARTWORK: A tall, skinny photograph of a rocky mountaintop piercing skeins of cloud cover. This rather tasteful black-and-white photo--which seems even more tasteful when juxtaposed with yesterday's completely hideous "Jazz Jambalaya" painting--hangs directly above the toilet in my room. Each time I have used the toilet this weekend, I have studied the photograph. I have two observations to share:
1. This looks like a place that The Lord of the Rings Gang would pass through on their way to Minas Tirith. Or,
2. Kratos might shop for real estate here. (PRIVATE, WIND-BLOWN MOUNTAIN-TOP ABODE COMPLETE WITH MENACING ROCK FORMATIONS IDEAL FOR BBQ-ING & ENTERTAINING/HURLING THE CORPSES AND LIMBS OF YOUR ENEMIES FROM/ENJOYING THREESOMES WITH WANTON MAIDENS. MINUTES TO PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. PETS WELCOME.)
Artwork score: 6 out of 10.
Can I remove said artwork from hotel room wall? Answer: This one came off the wall quite easily.