There is a particular magnetism in things. I feel the way they cling to me especially now, as I travel from one country to another by train, wanting nothing (I tell myself) but to travel lightly, and instead weighted down by what I cannot throw away. Even as I am having an “experience” (travel), I am tethered to my objects. There are the essentials, or what must come with—my dog, for instance, a toothbrush, underwear, and some clothes—but a lot more of the inessentials: three dog toys, a pair of yellowed goggles, a cigar box full of art supplies that includes two pairs of scissors plus an X-Acto knife, a curved sewing needle and bits of ribbon, thoroughly read copies of the London Review of Books, and a board game with instructions only in Spanish, a language I do not read. The last item I managed to offload onto a friend I met up with in Croatia. A best friend, to be sure (who else takes on the burden of your things?), who begrudgingly agreed to bring this and a heavy, hardcover exhibition catalogue back to the United States ahead of me.
by A.L. Major
I never want to seem like a tourist. I would rather ride the 3 train from 145th street in Manhattan down to Rockaway Avenue in Brooklyn before glancing at a subway map or asking for directions from a grim-faced New Yorker who wants nothing to do with me. The first time I went to New York city in twelfth grade, I blushed (as much as my dark skin would permit) when I noticed that my starch-pressed khaki skort and aqua-blue flip flops signaled to New Yorkers my obvious tourist status. I avoided Times Square because tourists congested the sidewalks and snapped photos of the brightly lit billboards. In Ireland, I was the worst tourist I could be: me and forty raucous Vassar College Rugby players. At all hours of the night, we squawked drunkenly, bellowed, jogged through Dublin side streets as if the city was our playground. When I say I dislike being a tourist, I don’t mean to suggest people shouldn’t travel. We should just travel better than we do.