There is a song from the sixties by Dion and the Belmonts called the Wanderer. If you have never heard it, check it out on YouTube. It reminds me of my childhood. I have a fondness of a lot of 50’s and 60’s music. Brings me back in time, sitting in the back of our family station wagon, no seat belts or car seats, Mom or Dad behind the wheel. Traveling to one of my brother’s tennis matches, the ice skating rink, Nanny’s house on Stadium Ave, maybe Friendly’s or Nathan’s. Didn’t really matter the destination, just that feeling of being on the open road, good tunes blaring out of the stereo…felt to me like the ultimate freedom. I have known many people throughout my life that have never ventured more than a few hours away from where they grew up and lived. For those people, this was never an issue, in fact they never thought much about it. This is where they are from, this is where their parents are from…they never felt a need to be anywhere else. I have always been the opposite, I love to travel, to see new places, meet new, different people, eat different food…experience change. My Mom and Dad sparked this fire inside of me. For as far back as I can remember, no matter how difficult the day to day struggle became, we always took a family trip each year. Something happens that is hard to put into words. It feels almost like I have walked into a painting, or onto the the pages of my favorite book. It is totally surreal, like a dream.
This tradition continues, now with our extended family. Mom and Dad, now known to most as Nanny and Poppy, take all the kids, spouses, and grandkids on a new exciting vacation every year. We get the comfort of all being together, but thrown into situations and locations that are exhilaratingly foreign to us all. It is intoxicating, astonishing…you get a deeper understanding of who you are, where you have been, where you are going. Seeing how others live, hundreds or thousands of miles from where you live…all going on at the exact same moments of time. Some aspects are similar, and some are vastly different. Eating locally is the greatest. There is something special eating dishes made with ingredients and love that were grown, caught, and harvested in close proximity to where they are consumed. The supermarket convenience and mass produced “factory” farming practices our generation now knows is robbing us of these simple pleasures. There is a huge difference between a tomato grown in your backyard, and one that was picked before it was ripe, travelled hundreds of miles in a truck, and found its way onto your table. The difference goes far beyond just taste and appearance. I love this country, it is my home. I am grateful to have been born here, and it would be difficult to live without a lot of the conveniences we are accustomed to. Travelling can also bring a huge sense of appreciation for what you do have at home. It can make you think about the little things we so often take for granted. My kids often ask me what my favorite food in the whole world is, and this is such a difficult question to answer honestly. The truth is I may have not yet had the opportunity to experience it yet. Although I have had the luxury of being able to travel quite extensively, and see many different parts of not only this country and continent, there is so much more. I hope to be able to soak some more of it in before my time expires. When I wake up someday, years from now, in some strange and exotic location, and I pinch myself just to be certain it’s not a dream…maybe I can honestly answer the favorite food question. Probably not. Most likely I will narrow it down from the whole world to just the small fraction of the world I have had the pleasure of knowing.