One of my favorite assignments is the author profiles that I sometimes write for Albuquerque the Magazine. It is always nice to have the chance to pick the brain of a successful writer and visit about the life of writing. Writing is often a lonely business, and having the chance to swap tales with someone makes the assignment that much more enjoyable.
Yesterday’s author interview was no exception. I arrive at a local Flying Star Restaurant, order a drink, and find a quiet table. I’ve already done my research – checked out the published titles, listened to the online interviews, read through many of the links on the internet.
He arrives with briefcase in hand, a quiet man with a soft, slow smile and gentle eyes. We talk for a few minutes about his newest book and upcoming projects, and then I move on to what I am really interested in: his globe-trotting past which has taken him to foreign lands and submerged him into other cultures. For just a few minutes, I want to vicariously ride along on his journey and see the world through his eyes.
He talks of what it is like being born the youngest son of a missionary father and how he wishes he had automatically retained his first language – Chinese. He breezes past the fact that he and his wife returned to Asia years later to teach English as if it was as mundane as taking a trip to the local watering hole. He tells of his experience smuggling medical supplies into war-torn countries and laughs as he shares a tale which may seem funny now but had to be heart-stopping at the time.
And after a few moments, I feel like a deflated balloon – all the air, the excitement of my own boring life completely exhausted in the shadow of such an colorful life. I tell him as much – about some of my own family who have been completely content to never travel more than a few hundred miles from their place of birth. I express admiration for the kind of courage it takes to lead his kind of life.
His response surprises me. He says it hasn’t taken courage, just a large dose of wanderlust and that he is often very envious of those with deep ties and connections to their roots. He says that he misses that kind of family, that kind of life. He talks of where he grew up and that no one is there anymore to go home to. And there is a melancholy in his voice that is kindred to my own.
And so, at the end of my vicarious journey around the world, I find something to be grateful for in my own very boring, vanilla roots. I’m glad for my time with this author who has given me a new perspective of the downside of a wandering soul.
But a part of me is still envious. I guess we always want what didn’t show up at our own door.