The Rules of Travel, by Martha Thomases
You can tell it’s January by the seed catalogs in the mailbox. No matter how dark and gloomy the day might be, Burpee and other seed spreaders assure you that someday, soon, the sun will shine and plants will grow.
I’m thinking about a vacation.
“But, Martha,” you say. “You’re a glamorous, successful woman! You have an exciting career that takes you all over the country, where you get to hang out with interesting creative people, all expenses paid. Your job is comics. Why should you need a vacation?”
It’s true that I’m extremely lucky. I get to work in my chosen field and get paid for my work. I get to live in New York City, the veritable Center of the Universe™. Every time I get up in the morning, I have the opportunity to see masterpieces of the visual, audio and kinetic arts. Some of the finest merchants on the planet have their flagship stores within a few miles of my apartment, easily accessible by inexpensive mass transit. Restaurants compete to see who can offer the most exotic, the most exquisite, the most yummy of foods. Why would I need a vacation?
All of this is true. I spent most of my adolescence scheming of ways to visit New York. As soon as I moved here, I met people in the comics business, and exploited them to the best of my ability so that I could learn how to get into the business (thanks, Denny!). I’m livin’ the dream, baby.
And I need a break.
Just as I knit because it’s a break from working at the computer, I need a vacation to get away from the stresses of this modern life. Even though I enjoy the stress, and am something of an adrenaline junkie (a few days away from the city, and I can’t sleep because there’s no traffic noises outside), I know I need new experiences. I need to shake up my expectations and do something new.
Unfortunately, before one can do something new, one has to travel to the new place. Modern air travel is a sadistic obstacle course. Take your luggage to the x-ray machine, wave goodbye and hope you see it again, take off your shoes, your watch, your underwire bra, put them on again, squeeze into your seat and hope that you can get to the only working bathroom if you need it. Train travel, which I adore, is unbelievably expensive and doesn’t go to a lot of places I’d enjoy visiting. The bus is fine for a short hop, but smells bad over the long haul.
Where are the Zeta beams? Where are the teleporters? If the Justice League has one, why can’t we? James Bond had a jetpack more than thirty years ago. George Jetson has a flying car. Please, can we find a mode of transportation, short of a private jet, that lets us be human and comfortable and still have enough money left over for an ice cream cone?
And where can we go that’s different? Mall culture has outgrown the mall, so that every city looks the same, with the same stores, the same chain restaurants, the same refurbished downtown area with Pottery Barns and multiplex movie theaters. Going abroad, with the dollar at its current low rate, is nearly as expensive as going to the Bottle City of Kandor. At least Kandor doesn’t have McDonalds.
Do you think the Fortress of Solitude has a decent spa?
Martha Thomases, the ComicMix media goddess, is thinking about a bike trip through the Outer Banks in mid-May, if her husband agrees.