We paused for lunch today in Zaragoza, where my college friend Monique lives. She introduced us to a colleague of hers and the riverfront and the basilica in the center and we ate delicious lamb and rabbit. Is this what it means to be cosmopolitan? To meet with friends met in one town in another town entirely where you know no locals? We probably spent more time talking about one another’s work and travels than about Zaragoza. Makes me wonder what the meaning of a place is if you more or less ignore it while you’re there. But then again, this is a road trip and maybe it’s not worth worrying too much about not getting to know any one point along the way. I have a family connection here, too: my grandmother grew up here, but I don’t know if anyone from our extended family still lives here.
It’s time for another move.
I left my parents’ home long ago for Cambridge, Massachusetts, to acquire an education. When that didn’t work out, I moved to Cambridge, England, in search of a profession. Later I moved to Madrid, Spain, for the quality of life. This time it’s Zürich, in pursuit of a woman. I’ve mostly traveled light and done my moves by way of anticlimactic commercial flights. Maybe it’s thanks to the quality of life in Madrid or maybe it’s just my advancing years, but in collecting my possessions before this move I found that I had accumulated an embarrassing amount of chattel. Too much for RyanAir, EasyJet or even SwissAir. This move called for something different. This move calls for:
THE GREAT EUROPEAN ROADTRIP: A George & Lucas Production
This is no solo effort. My friend Laura in Madrid kindly let me cache my things at her flat while I took a side trip across the Indian Ocean last month. And when I mentioned my transport conundrum to my long-time Cambridge housemate George, a Shakespeare scholar, he raised his eyebrows and said, “Well, I’m not doing anything that week.”
So now he is. And so am I. We will pause from our lives in the jet set. Instead, we will drive Europe’s blacktop. We shall not travel light. We shall not rush. We shall meander from Madrid to Zürich. We shall savor the cheeses and wines of half a dozen river valleys. And, for reasons my attorney advises me to omit from the public record, we shall return our vehicle to Madrid. Then, on the evening of 7 April in Barajas, we shall reconsecrate ourselves to the jet age and return home in the belly of an Airbus.
Of course, there’s a catch. George doesn’t drive. So our team consists of one man who cannot drive legally and one man who cannot drive at all.
Follow us, if you dare!