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Road Trip 2006 May 30, 2006

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Ramblings, Up and Away.

The usual family vacation carried on this year but with a twist: this time, my parents and my brother came over to New York to visit, which served as a jumping off point for what in retrospect was a two-part road trip on the East and West coasts. These past two weeks were most definitely a welcome change of scene and change of pace, allowing me both to see more of the US (after a fashion) as well as to touch base with my folks (and the creature also known as my brother).

From New York, we took a day trip to Long Island to see the sights (or a lighthouse, depending on how you look at it), and thereafter a few hours drive to Bethesda, Maryland and by extension Virginia and Washington DC. Highlights included an impromptu visit to Georgetown University (where we nearly attended convocation), swinging by Book Expo America 2006, frequenting a Thai restaurant in the heart of Bethesda, and finally satisfying a craving by dining at a Cheescake Factory branch in Maryland (don’t ask).

After that, we spent over a week in California, nominally in my parents’ place near San Francisco. Highlights included driving up five hours to the Santa Ynez Valley, which afforded us the opportunity to visit nearby Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. Along the way, we dropped by Solvang, a Dutch replica town seemingly in the middle of nowhere; drove around UC Santa Barbara, with flawed directions from Google Maps that pointed us towards the right street in the wrong place; and fulfilled what can only be described as an irrational need to eat at El Pollo Loco by way of a rest stop at Salinas on the return trip to San Francisco (again, don’t ask).

The past two weeks of activity have afforded me the opportunity to reflect on a number of things:

I am overweight. That non sequitur aside, more to the point:

New York operates at a totally different rhythm compared to anywhere else in the world. I used to think that people were exaggerating when they’d say as much, but now I believe them. It’s not that New Yorkers are an impatient high-strung bunch and by comparison everyone else seems provincial and everywhere else moving at a snail’s pace – although a case could be made to that effect – but more like elsewhere feels unnecessarily laid back by comparison (even for someone like me). Why? I don’t know; it’s hard to put into words. But suffice it to say that I can now understand why some say that New York is the capital of the world, something I once thought such hubris.

The world is getting smaller. One moment, I’m finishing up the last of my exams for the term; the next, I’m standing in the same room with my parents, who decide all by themselves that I need to rearrange the furniture in my apartment. In New York one minute, then Washington the next, and San Francisco after that. And in no time at all, with a drowsy salute from my brother, my parents see me off to the airport and just as quickly I find myself back where I started. It’s really incredible.

The world isn’t small enough. Sure, everything is more convenient now. Travel. Communication. But there is still no substitute for what really matters. The past few weeks were great: my family came over and brought a dose of “home” along with them; good times. But it can’t replace actually being at home. Never will.



1. GY - May 31, 2006

Hey B.! Glad you had a good time with your family. And I agree with your take on NY City – it really has a different beat. Take care and all the best as you start another sem. GY.

2. Anonymous - June 14, 2006

i like this blog, bri. 🙂

3. "Let Me Into Your Country...Please?" « BRAIN DRAIN - April 4, 2007

[…] It’s that time of the year again when the traditional family vacation begins to take shape. Last year, I was able to spend quality time with my parents and brother because they flew in to visit. This […]

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