Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Coming Home

There is so much to do after being away for 18 days. Besides all the normal things like going through the mail, paying the bills, watering the plants, doing laundry, I need to finish my travel journal. I try to write in a journal nearly every day I’m away, leaving plenty of blank pages to incorporate the ephemera: train tickets, playbills, menus, blogs, mini-photos, drawings of chairs. The trip journal takes on a life of its own as an art project, memory booster, and scrapbook. I revisit the country in choosing photos and pasting them into the book; in the process I move the memories and learning into my brain’s long-term storage compartment. I love the process. Even more I love having it done.

My very first trip journal was a small green faux leather book that I took with me to Europe in the summer of 1965. Writing with a very fine-pointed rapidograph pen, I crammed more information into this little book than I ever thought possible. The ephemera and photos went into scrapbooks and a box that for years have been tucked away. My current journals combine it all.

I also get to start cooking again. And how about this: I continue to have a hankering for Middle Eastern food—even though I spent six days eating it twice or three times a day. So I’ve made a Bulgur Salad with Roasted Peppers, Meatballs with Sour Cherries from The Book of Middle Eastern Food, trying to reconstruct the dish we had our first night in Damascus (see photo), Lebneh with Za’atar, Red Pepper Walnut and Pomegranate Dip, Zucchini Mint Fritters, and Cinnamon Chicken with Orzo. So good. Still hungry for those flavors.

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