Anyone who knows me knows I’m not one to wax wistfully over the past, to pore over photos and memories with longing and melancholy. (Don’t go analyzing it looking for some dark horrible thing in my past, there really isn’t one, promise.)
I wish, actually, that I’d taken more photos, so many places I’ve been and things I’ve seen—especially when I was in my 20’s and did a lot of traveling—yet I rarely had a camera with me. But then again, I’m glad that I spent those moments enjoying what was before me and not lining up the perfect shot.
But, bahhh this is not about photography (and I love photography, really I do). This is about a journey I took tonight when I actually read one of those emails from one of those companies that makes photo books. Actually I think I’ve deleted dozens of them, but this one offered me a 20-page hard-cover photo book for free.
So, why not? I spent a couple of hours looking through the photos I have on my computer (not all have made it there yet, but a couple of them I posted above), and put together a lovely book of photos from a journey (or journeys) I took with la familia a few years ago. Unfortunately since I am the family photographer there are chunks of time and glorious sights and moments of which there is nary a photo, but there are also some lovely ones which capture the magic of that time.
Imagine that, five countries in nine months, five people: two parents and three children, one quite small and the others on the cusp of adolescence (whatever that means…they were 11 and 13) all spending 24/7 together, living out of small duffel bags and traveling, a lot. You might think it was difficult and fraught with tension, but actually it wasn’t. Being forced to be together and usually in very small spaces we learned a lot about respect and privacy and getting along. It changed us and bonded us in so many ways, some subtle, others not so. For me it was magical, for all of us it was, and we all look at it as a time of great love and simplicity and exploration, all rolled up in one.
But I didn’t intend to talk about my travels here, but rather about what revisiting this time made me think of: small spaces and voyages.
I’ve always loved small spaces. I feel happy in simple small spaces and a bit lost in larger ones. Perhaps because of this I’m so fascinated by the tiny house movement (google it, you’ll find loads of information). It has become a secret love of mine, reading about these little houses, poring over the photos of their oh-so-efficient spaces, the creative use of nooks and crannies, how varied and versatile they are. Some dream of buying a bigger more elegant more spacious house when they settle down or retire (either or both): I dream of a small shack on a cliff or a beach. You know, those simple whitewashed Mediterranean old-style homes, the only color the blue paint around the windows and doors (and sometimes roofs) to chase away the evil eye and the shock of magenta bougainvillea that tumbles down its side…ahhhhhh.
Actually, I have a few photos saved that I clipped from here and there (now digitally on pinterest). Here are a couple of photos of my dream house:
I also thought of travel, and of the organization I heard of recently called… get this… CouchSurfing. The basic premise being that you share your home with others and they share theirs with you. Voila. Couldn’t be simpler, yet what insanity in this world of mine mine mine. Here’s how they describe it:
CouchSurfing is your ticket to explore the world — from the road or from your own home. Over a million members are out there waiting to learn about your culture and show you some of theirs. Eat borscht in Odessa. Watch kangaroos in Adelaide. Find the best noodles in Tokyo. Show travelers the best live music near your home, or your favorite hiking trail. Meet locals in your own city who share your interest in travel and the world.
According to their stats they have members in 240 countries, about two thirds of them, understandably, under thirty (about the age when life gets more complicated) but claim a few members of all ages. Best of all it’s free. Absolutely positively no money exchanged, just good will and offering to do the dishes, cook a meal, help fix something that’s broken, whatever…. a way to facilitate travel and interaction not through those boutique trips (Explore the real Turkey! Live with a Family in Italy!) where you have to be ultra wealthy to live a simple life. Hosting follows the same principle, opening your home with generosity, respect and openness (yet not to just anyone, there are references and safety measures in place). A few years ago I would probably have become a career couchsurfer. Beautiful.
Travel changes you. It challenges you and spins you around. It humbles and restores your belief in beauty and goodness, reminds you that people (good and bad) are everywhere. It enables you to see differences as well as similarities, often where you least expected it. It opens your eyes and your heart to others. I’m not quite ready to push the bunnies out into the world like that just yet, but soon (and trust me, I won’t have to push them, they are as in love with travel—and tiny houses—as I am!).