Day 13: For some people, no matter how much they love traveling, there’s always no place like home. Other travelers make their homes wherever they happen to be. Tell us about your home – where is it and why do you consider it your home?
I myself am often pulled in several different directions; one day I’m drawn to Philadelphia/New York, another day I’m drawn to Tokyo or Kyoto, and still other days I’m drawn to good old Sydney, and it just sort of oscillates between those places.
Part of it, I think, is that home is a place you’re happy to go home to. I did some navel-gazing a few months ago on this very topic, in which I basically said, “Do you enjoy coming home?” That’s still important, but I think it’s also sort of a combination of the pull such a place has, and one’s ability to assimilate (or be the local foreigner), and just generally being well-informed about the place. Ultimately, however, I’ve never heard a definition of “home” that wasn’t narrow or pretentious or guilty of some other failing, but there are two I really like:
- “Home is where the heart is,” the old standard, and…
- “Home isn’t where the heart is. Home is where you understand the sons of b____es.”
Take from that what you will.
Day 14: What’s your favorite quote about travel? Why does it stand out to you?
A dog-eared one from Tolkien: “Not all those who wander are lost.” Because it’s true.
Also this one from the Ninth Doctor: “Time travel is like visiting Paris. You can’t just read the guidebook, you’ve gotta throw yourself in! Eat the food, use the wrong verbs, get charged double and end up kissing complete strangers – or is that just me?” Throw caution to the wind, &c.
Day 15: What is your favorite (or least favorite) city and what do you love (or hate) about it?
Least favorite: No contest. My least favorite city is the one I currently live in, but Reno, Nevada comes in a distant second. I honestly can’t hate Reno, ‘cos the city is more sad and pathetic than actively malevolent (that’s my town), but it is what it is: an endless sea of fair-to-middling casinos and ratty motels and rattier thrift stores populated by the sort of people who spend their days parked dead-eyed in front of slot machines. Which is why I can’t hate Reno.
I would say it’s Dubai except I’ve never been there. [Only reason I mention Dubai is because it’s a textbook example of how not to build a city. It’s the Los Angeles of the mideast, ratcheted up a few notches. If J G Ballard were alive and healthy, he’d be writing books, plural, set in Dubai. If money could build cities, this is what they would look like: noxious hells of snotty, entitled European trust-fund kids disenfranchising the South Asian underclasses.]
[Speaking of, I’m not too fond of sprawling, car-centric cities in general. The best thing LA ever did was taking mass transit seriously.]
Most favorite: Here’s the Big Three.
- New York City — Center of the Universe, right here. Land of Art and Culture and more hipsters than you can shake a stick at. Also home to great architecture, great pizza (made as God intended), and astounding Theatah. One of the trippiest cities I’ve ever visited, and the only one that has ever inspired verse. Still amazed that this is an actual place that actually exists in real life.
- Sydney — An antipodean Anglophonic outpost whose inhabitants’ laid-back and easygoing nature convinced me that my ancestors immigrated to the wrong country. Sits on one of the most beautiful natural harbors in the world, with glorious beaches surrounded by even more glorious cliffs. The Opera House really is nicer on the inside. Try the Thai food.
- Tokyo — Nerd Heaven. Also Urbanist Heaven. No city this big has any right to be this human-scaled, but that’s the Japanese city for you. A collection of discrete (and extremely busy) nodes around a railway loop, just outside of which are peaceful, quiet, snug suburban areas which call into question the notion that the city is exceptionally crowded. The town where I fell in love with small-space living; if they can manage it, why can’t we?