It’s not like nipping down to the corner chemist’s shop. The drugstore I normally would nip down to is suddenly in another dimension. It’s 13 1/2 hours in the past and unreachable in any reasonable time without advanced technology. Sure, we’re not talking a time machine, but instead a jet engine, but I have about as much chance of building a jet plane as a TARDIS.
On the current Doctor Who series, the Doctor always jiggers his companion’s mobile phone so she can call home, no matter the fact that home may be millions of light years and millions of actual years distant. Those conversations with mum are always a little strained because it’s hard to bring context to chit-chat when your frame of reference is so separated.
I’m sure that The Doctor travels with a Companion just so he can have someone to talk to who has context in his incredible circumstance. I can post photos and snippets about my trip to Facebook, but if most of my friends are living in last night, it still takes awhile to get those comments, Likes and LOLs on my insights and by then, I might be in another country and another time.
And photos and notes will never convey the reality of where I am or what I’m seeing. I took a bunch of photos of Bangalore that I didn't bother to post; just another street with a bunch of people and motorcycles and cars. I wrote about it on Facebook, but the chaos and the smells and the energy of being surrounded by 12 million people who look different, talk differently and think differently than me is something every writer tries to convey. Sometimes we succeed in explaining it, but experiencing a writer’s interpretation is never the same thing as experiencing something yourself.
My trip took me from Bangalore to Trondheim, Norway, which is only 9 hours in the future from Portland. But it’s still a long ways away with oceans and mountains and customs officials blocking the path. When I get a note from a friend asking if I’d like to grab a beer, I can’t say, “I’ll be right over.” Even if I get a note saying that there’s a family emergency, the logistics are challenging.
It turns out that home isn’t just where the heart is. It’s where your clock is set and where not just your friends, but your acquaintances are. It may be a place where you live in your own little world of work and home without having to see people, but you can see people when needed. The four time zones in the U.S. often seem challenging, but three timezones and 2,000 miles is conquerable on foot; not that I would want to walk the breadth of the U.S., but people have and people still do.
The world is smaller today because we can travel more places faster. If we need to be somewhere, we can probably get there. But the further you go, the more complex your path, the more alien the place you are will feel.
And, that, I suppose, is part of the adventure.