The day before a prolonged trip to another country is always filled with lists. The bills I haven’t gotten around to paying, phone calls I have not yet returned, all the little things that I’ve put off because I could, after all, do them tomorrow.

But when I’m about to get on a plane to another continent, I realize that “tomorrow” is going to take awhile, and that I’d better get some of those things done now, today, before leaving. I think that on some level I use these trips as a way to organize my life – to do the things that I’d never quite get around to, if time were simply measured from one day to the next.

In a sense, a long trip is like a punctuation mark in one’s perception of time, a set of tall markers that stand out in one’s personal history like a row of ragged fence posts. They come between the long interludes back on the home front when one day blends seamlessly into the next, these trips to distance places – these disruptive and eventful markers of time.

Some of these trips can be recalled even from a distance of decades later. I suppose that, without quite thinking about it, I’ve been collecting these trips for years, adding each one in turn to my memory’s attic, like a rare coin.

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