I’m not much of a scrapbooker. I’m not much of a souvenir buyer. I take really awful photos.
I’ve traveled around South America, climbed volcanoes, touched down on Pacific islands, taken a swim in the South China sea. You want to know what I have to show for it? A handful of refrigerator magnets and a box with a collection of relatively worthless foreign currency.
There are several reasons for this, of course, but the biggest one is this: I don’t really want to spend time thinking back fondly on old adventures. I don’t want to sit and remember the places I’ve been.
I want to go there again.
If I really loved a place, loved an experience, loved the people I met, I want to revisit it. I want to be a regular.
It hit me yesterday as the kids and I were sorting and reorganizing. This is it.
Here you go, my real, true scrapbook:
All of my favorite places are here. Here because I can glance over at them and remember, of course, but it’s way, way better than that.
This is more than a scrapbook. It’s better than an airport. It’s the transporter room of the frickin’ Starship Enterprise in here. Walk to the spot, select the volume, open the cover, BOOM, you’re in another world. Instant teleportation.
All of my favorite places are here. Prince Edward Island. Middle Earth. Edwardian England. District 12. Hogwarts. Arrakis. A little house in some big woods.
And believe me, I am a regular visitor.
It started when I was a kid. I stopped by Avonlea for a quick visit, then ended up spending hours with its people. When it was time to go, I wasn’t ready. My feet walked around the real world of Portland, Oregon but my head was on a little island by a different sea. So I went back. Over and over again.
I would tear myself free from one world only to get sucked into another. I spent a few weeks in Walnut Grove. I liked how I felt there, braver and tougher and more honest. I passed a summer in Camelot, where the world was noble and also dangerous, and I had to learn to live with heartbreak.
Then I found that I missed my old haunts, so I made a trip back through. Everything was just as I remembered it.
I remembered my dad taking me to Middle Earth when I was younger, so I decided to go back on my own. Nothing makes you feel like you can be better, do more, like a journey by Frodo’s side. I probably made that trek once a year from 12 to 20.
Of course, I keep visiting new places. Some are fun adventures I can recommend to others but feel no need to relive. Some were a waste of time. And little by little, new favorites have been uncovered. Places of beauty that held me captive. Places that blew my mind and demanded more time to process. Places where I was so happy, I didn’t want to leave. Those places all sit, lined up now, waiting for me to come to back.
As the list grows longer, the gap between visits lengthens. I hadn’t been to Middle Earth for several years when I took my kids back this time.
It is strange and wonderful and a little wrenching to introduce them to the places that rooted themselves so deeply in my heart. They have enjoyed passing through, but I can tell the place doesn’t mean the same thing to them that it means to me. That’s okay. They have their own places. Hogwarts and Camp Halfblood and the town of Everafters. This transport room holds their places, too.
There are a bunch we haven’t visited yet. As we sorted through, ditching the places that weren’t worth a second glance and the adventures that fell flat before they began, we lined up the new ones we haven’t tried out yet. Places yet to be tried. People yet to be met. What will we find there? Who will we be there?
It’s when I realize I have a whole lifetime to find out that I feel as happy as I can feel.