Friday, June 10, 2005

I Travel To Australia In My Mind

Dad got a brochure in the mail today from a company called Tauck World Discovery, one of those places that runs exotic travel excursions for suburban adventurers. My Dad, Dr. Livingstone — he and the wife used to travel around Europe and the Caribbean, but then I was born and now the most alluring place this family's travelled is Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay. Narragansett is the poor man's Cape Cod, which is of course the poor man's Jersey shore, which is the poor man's Sandals beach resort. You mean the water's cold and green and I can win a stuffed Tweety bird if I flip the plastic frog onto a lily pad? Just like nature intended.

Narragansett's like that except, like Fanwood, there's no prizes. Better seafood though.

The past few years have seen even further atrophy of our family vacation. We went from reasonably-priced motels on dull beaches to day trips into New York, which I usually passed on because I was living in New York at the time and that made their trips less like vacations and more like errands.

Now this thing from Tauck comes in the mail with an offer of a three-week Australian and New Zealand-an cruise, and that sounds a whole lot better than spending three weeks here in Fanwood. I'm enchanted by these photos of koala bears and Ayers Rock, but it ain't happening. It doesn't matter that the Tauck package costs a couple thousand dollars more than my student loan — I could just tell you from experience: this isn't the first time I've gotten it in my head to fly far, far away from here and, save for a four-day stint in Washington, D.C., I haven't even been out of the New York metropolitan area in five years. For my twenty-first birthday, the parents even offered me an expenses-paid trip somewhere, but I've been following in their footsteps instead.

So it didn't really come as a surprise to me in therapy the other day when Dr. Schlessinger noted, "You know what I don't really hear from you, Jay? I don't hear any sort of momentum coming from your social experiences. I don't hear any of your friends suggesting, 'Hey, I saw this cool thing in Time Out New York next Saturday,' or, 'Look at this. Tickets to Prague are only three-hundred dollars. We should go.' Going on a trip would give you that continuous momentum. I think it would be really good if you went on a trip with a friend."

Me too.

Unfortunately, I can't get my friends to go to the fucking movies with me. The sheer volume of voice-mail messages, scheduling conflicts, lame excuses, and last-minute cancellations I've gotta deal with just to get dinner with a friend frequently makes me want to shove an awl through my skull. I'm the guy who couldn't give away a limo ride to the senior prom. I'll become the princess of Spain before I'm able to bring a friend on vacation with me.

And there's the possibility of finding some Tauck-like company that caters to kids my age, and I've thought about that, too. It's too bad that I spent four years living with kids my age, and for the most part they're nothing but loud, drunken, boorish louts. I'd be like that moody guy on every season of The Real World who's always in the confessional talking about how he doesn't fit in.