Character Study #3

**This is part 3 of a character study, written completely in dialogue.**


We left there. Mom cried after saying good bye to her sister. We were real quiet in the car and drove with the hard top up because it was drizzling.”

“She was sick. Wasn’t she?”

“I didn’t know it then. She died the next spring. It was cancer. Dad knew when we took that trip but I didn’t for about ten years. She was in a lot of pain that winter but she was always there for me.

The trip home wasn’t as eventful as the one there for a couple of reasons. We had only two days to get home. And the weather was wet the whole way. I slept snuggled next to my mom or she sang to me. They even sang together while we drove. That was the first trip I remember.”

“Did you and your dad travel while you were growing up?”

“Not much. We drove to visit Jenny and Thomas every summer and once we went with them on a road trip to Chicago. That was fun but I don’t consider those trips Travel. You know, we were getting from one place to another. Jenny and Thomas had a couple more kids so I was kid-wrangler most of the time. Dad worked all the time. And he was sad for many years. We both were sad. By the time our grief lifted, I was older. I played sports all the time and we didn’t have time to travel.”

“You said you didn’t consider those trips ‘travel’. What does that mean to you?”

“There is the kind of moving from place to place most people do in life. They take a train or plane somewhere and stay in a hotel. They visit the sites in the guidebooks. They eat at the big restaurants. Maybe they even talk to local folks who wait on them at dinner. They leave the place without any sense of the uniqueness of it. They might know who founded the place, what the city is famous for, who did what and when. You can get that from the internet today. But they fail to get below the surface. It’s like when you meet someone for the first time. You exchange names and some basic data. My name is Sam, I am married to Anna. I write about travel. You know nothing about me.  Why do I write? Why do I travel? You are digging below the surface right now. You are asking questions. By the time we’re done, you will know something about me for real.

To me ‘Travel’ is getting down into the nitty gritty. Who cares who founded the town or what famous thing happened there? I want to get to know that guy who has run the butcher shop for thirty years. I want to buy him a beer.

This family I met in India one year was so fascinating. They have this ranch that has been in their family for several generations. Anna and I met them at the market years ago on our first trip to India. We were about the same age and both married only a few years.

Rahul and Zafira became our good friends. We saw them many times over the years. We wrote often and still see them from time to time. When I write about India, I am writing about Rahul and Zafira or their family. That is the difference between going somewhere and ‘traveling’”

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