My birthday is in the latter part of May. Years ago, I was asked by my boss, very cautiously I might add, if my approaching birthday ended in a five or a zero. That has always stayed with me for some reason. He almost seemed frightened yet obligated in some way to ask. I tell you this story because, this year’s birthday did end in a five. I don’t usually let it bother me. It is just another day after all. But for some reason(s), this year has me waxing philosophical and I decided to immerse myself in reading John Steinbeck’s novel, Travels with Charley, because, well, isn’t that what every middle-age woman does for her birthday? Okay. Maybe not. But, that’s what I did.
I somehow missed reading this classic book in my youth. I think that was fortunate for me because I now have life experiences to make this book even more meaningful, or perhaps meaningful in a different way. Either way, I have to tell you that there were many times I said aloud, “Get out of my head.” And, as I was reading, I decided that I want my very own Rocinate to load down with books to read, and my very own Charley as my travel companion to accompany me on adventures. (Of course, I would have to include art supplies and photography gear which would further stress the tires of the vehicle, but that’s another story.) I also found myself laughing aloud, which I rarely do when reading books. And, by the end of the book, I was waxing philosophical again, but this time I was in good company with Mr. Steinbeck even though there is a fifty-six-year chasm of time between us. Nevertheless, by the end of the book, I wanted to return to the mundane everyday life much like I suspect Mr. Steinbeck longed for. I love my haven of home, and familiarity, and quiet, and safety to reflect. Avoidance? Maybe. But, the last few chapters returned me to my reflective status, and I don’t want it interrupted at the moment. Perhaps that is part of this season of life in which I am ensconced, this season that I now share with the author when he penned the book.
As the temperatures rise marking the start of our summers, and summer travel plans unfold, think about including this book on your summer reading list. And, if you are lucky enough to visit California, I hope you will be able to include the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California on your agenda. To pique your curiosity, the Center displays the real Rocinate (okay, not Don Quixote’s horse, but rather Mr. Steinbeck’s travel vehicle named after Don Quixote’s horse). If you do visit, I would love to hear all about it because I have not visited the Center… YET.
Wishing you safe summer travels. May your experiences last a life-time and, perhaps, change your life along the way.