My Complete Lack of Travel Chill

My sweating and having zero chill in front of the Coliseum.

My sweating and having zero chill in front of the Coliseum.

Is it possible to have less than zero chill when travelling? If so, I have that.

My grandmother Agnes had a friend - let’s call her Ruth - who she traveled to Europe with twice. My grandma always rolled her eyes when she recounted how Ruth would paw the walls of the ancient castles they visited in Scotland, exclaiming, “It’s so ancient! It’s just SO ancient!!!”

My grandmother found Ruth an excruciatingly embarrassing travel companion for her complete lack of chill.

Me pretending to smoke an imaginary cigarette and look like a cool Italian against massive Roman ruins. Failing miserably with the fake-smoking and Italian part, but succeeding beautifully with the zero-chill.

Me pretending to smoke an imaginary cigarette and look like a cool Italian against massive Roman ruins. Failing miserably with the fake-smoking and Italian part, but succeeding beautifully with the zero-chill.

It dawned on me on our trip to Rome that I am Ruth. I don’t glide around Rome in a perfect chiffon dress, espadrilles, and a straw hat and shrug, blasé, when I turn the corner and am confronted with a Roman temple.

Nope. Not me. I’m all sweaty and my feet hurt and I’m frantically taking photos. I happen upon a sole Roman column and shriek “HOLY CRAP THAT’S AN ACTUAL ROMAN COLUMN!!!!!” And then I’m like, “I need to go closer! I must TOUCH IT”. I found myself pawing ancient things constantly on this trip à la Ruth.

Then there’s also the aspect of “I can’t believe I am still alive to paw ancient Roman things!”.

Roman arches? I must pose for a picture here. “Take a photo of me Franck! Take a photo of me!”.

Roman arches? I must pose for a picture here. “Take a photo of me Franck! Take a photo of me!”.

I have decided to embrace having no travel chill. I realized that the most annoying tourists in France are those who act completely unimpressed by everything. Have they lost their sense of wonder (which I find so terribly tragic that I pity them)? Or are they trying to act cool to impress...who exactly? It’s not a lot of fun being chill. It’s definitely not fun being around someone like that.

I believe the main requirement for being a writer is wonder. My books are full of the wonder of living in France (not to mention living with a Frenchman). If I was blasé about life in France, there wouldn’t be much for me to write about.

As Roald Dahl wrote, “Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” It’s only now I realize Ruth nailed that shit down long ago.

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