Itchy Feet

I’ve always had a vague idea that I’d like to travel, and have charted on a theoretical map in my head all the places that I’d like to see. Mexico, Thailand, Samoa, Brazil, St. Lucia and Croatia are a handful of places that have always been ‘up there’. I’ve been very fortunate to have seen many wonderful places already and I relish any opportunity to explore the unknown treasures that my own small island has to offer, but I have recently felt the urge to step up the vague notions I’ve previously had of raking my feet through foreign sands and reach out for something more tangible.

I guess it’s only natural that these feelings should surface when I’m planning to take the biggest trip of my life. In November this year I will be jetting off to New Orleans in the name of research, and I hope to spend about a month in the Big Easy. I haven’t travelled that far away from home for that length of time for a long while, and I’ve certainly not done it on my own before. I’m really excited about the prospect, and I get a little bit squealy inside when I think of all the amazing things that I will get to explore. I’m particularly enthused by the idea of getting to see some of the tignons (headdresses worn by free women of colour under colonial sumptuary laws) in the LSM’s collection.  Of course, while I love what I do, and while the libraries and museums will certainly yield an abundance of wonderful things to keep me occupied throughout my stay, I have no shame in admitting that what I am perhaps looking forward to the most is the food.  With fare ranging from beignets, gumbo and barbecue shrimp to po boys, jambalaya and oysters served hot and cold to titillate my taste buds, I know that I’ll be in for a treat, and I might just come home looking like the Pillsbury Doughboy.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed making the preparations for my big trip, and I know that there’s a lot more yet to do (on top of the thesis writing, conference papers, archive work, and museum talks that I will be working on over the next few months), but I am starting to think that this is really only the start of a much bigger journey – a journey that will almost certainly take me away from my familiar London-Norwich enclave for perhaps an unspecified period of time – and I’ve been starting to lay the foundations. I don’t want to say too much at this stage; although my thoughts are no longer a fog, they’re still only blossoming. I hope it won’t be too long before they start to bear fruit, however.

I’d like to end this piece by mentioning a very dear friend who took a massive leap into the unknown this year, leaving her job, her friends, her home and most of her worldly possessions to go and live and work in France. Her journey has been an uphill struggle, but she has been an inspiration, and I can’t wait to be reunited with her in the summer for a few beautiful days. See, ma chèrie, look what you’ve started! I hope you’ve got something that I can scratch that itch with…



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