>Assignments, 01

>My whole life my father has given my brother and I assignments. For me, these are usually lists or paragraphs to write. Occasionally they have been to learn how to do things. When I was younger, my father made a list of things for me to learn. I have been working on them since then, focusing on different ones at different periods. I still can’t do three pullups in a row.

The most recent called for me to make a list of every place I’ve been. This is difficult, in one way, because it requires first deciding what “having been there” counts as, and how specific one should get.

At this point in my life, I’ve spent about a day in Amsterdam, between the handful of times I had layovers in the airport there. But that doesn’t count because I’ve never actually been out of the airport. There are other places I’ve been, that I say I’ve been, that I saw very little of, or small sections. Philosophically, I wouldn’t say I’ve been there, but in casual conversation I would say I was there. Then there’s specificity. I’ve been to South Korea. Do I say South Korea or do I list the places in South Korea I’ve been to? I’ve decided to make these personal decisions on a cast by case basis. I don’t count Hull, MA because we sat at the beach for an hour and then left. I do count Lowell, MA because we wandered around for a few hours. I’ll make a separate list of places I’ve biked sometime.

This list, annotated and without real dates, is in reverse chronological order, as best I can do. I hope my parents and friends can help me add dates at a later date. For places I’ve been to several times, I’ve tried to list it in reference to the first time I was there. There are likely gaps.

-Reykjavik, Iceland
-Highland, MD
-New York City, NY
-Lowell, MA
-Salem, MA
-New Hope, PA
-Songtan, South Korea
-Seoul, South Korea
-Suwon, South Korea
-Los Angeles, CA
-Santa Clara, CA
-Marin, CA
-Medford, OR
-Yelm, WA
-Salt Lake City, UT
-Louisville, KY
-Cambridge, MA
-Somerville, MA
-Chicago, IL
-Berlin, PA
-Irkusk, Russia
-Ulaan Ude, Buryat, Russia
-Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia
-Saen Shed, Mongolia
-Hohhot, IMAR, China
-Beijing, China
-Phoenixville, PA
-Pickney, MI
-Clarkdale, AZ
-Kent, OH
-Salzburg, Austria
-Zagreb, Croatia
-Wein, Austria
-Various places around the Detroit and Ann Arbor areas, MI
-Filey, UK
-Providence, RI
-Valatie, NY
-Boston, MA
-Pittsburgh, PA
-Sedona, AZ
-Phoenix, AZ
-Baltimore, MD
-Ft. Lauderdale, FL
-Washington, DC
-Space Camp and Space Academy, FL and AL
-Williamsburg, VA
-Savannah, GA
-Poconos, PA

There’s a jumble before this. Before these were years that included driving out to Dillon, Colorado, trips to North Carolina, which set up going during Spring Break at school, trips to Florida, which also set up going there for Spring Break. We went to New Hampshire, my family that is. I don’t remember the cities. My aunt lived in Riverton, NJ and I’ve been there countless times. I visited another aunt in Punxsutawney, PA once. I’ve skipped things, like the time Dad took us to the Baltimore Aquarium when we were really little. The trip to Boston, and the trip to DC, we took as a family for just the evening. We’ve been to Brigantine, NJ for family reunions. I grew up in Philadelphia.

There are other things I didn’t know what to do with. There were a lot of places I visited for a few hours when driving around the US. I only counted the ones I stayed at for at least a day. I don’t know what to do about the Transsiberian, but I feel as though it needs to be mentioned. There was the drive I took around Arkhangai and Overhungai with the M.Y.U.C. psych department in the summer of ’08.

There are upcoming trips. New London, CT this May for a wedding. Seattle, WA this June for another. I haven’t really been to either of them before. There’s the vast list of places I want to go and the equally intimidating list of places I want to go back to.

Whenever searching my memory for places I’ve been, I found myself unable to remember factual details of the trips. I can’t list itineraries, what happened when. I could not draw a time line. Instead, I remember things that happened in no particular order–being the volunteer in a fake trial in Williamburg, walking around in that tricorner hat I begged my parents for. Walking down the steps of the stone walls in Savannah. Wandering through Baltimore, JHU’s campus, at the exact same time AL and KG were there. I remember driving up on Salt Lake City and how like a flower it bloomed. I remember outrunning a storm in Punxsutawney and hiding with my grandfather from the rain at his house in Florida.

I remember getting out of my car in Oregon, walking to the river, and falling in love.

My father says try to stay in the present, even as you recall the past. I don’t think I’m lost, I don’t feel lost, but right now all I can think of is that river.

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