Today I became an explorer. In my quest to make a summer in New Bern slightly more entertaining, I have decided to tackle random internet lists with titles such as ’50 Things to Do Before you Die’ or ‘101 Ways to Avoid Boredom’ or ’37 Activities to Annoy Your Fellow Man in the Superstore/College Campus/Generic Location of your choice’. However, since I am in New Bern some of the activities featured on this list aren’t what one might call ‘feasible’. For example, the first activity from the first list from the first half-hearted Google search states:
1. Set foot on each of the seven continents. Antarctica might seem like a tough one, but [redacted]. Once you’ve reached all seven you can truly call yourself a world traveler.
As it happens, I have already visited South America, Europe, Africa, and places within North America other than the United States, which just leaves Asia, Australia, and the aforementioned ‘difficult’ Antarctica. Thus I was left with a conundrum. How does one visit a continent without leaving a continent. New Bern is not home to any embassies or consulates or any other diplomatic quasi-international boundary defying parcels, nor does it have an abundance of Asian themed stores. I thought about dressing up as Godzilla and running around Outback Steakhouse but seeing as how I intend to take the Bar exam later this summer I thought I should avoid accruing any ‘disturbing the peace’ arrests.
Plus the only Godzilla costume I could find during the five minutes I devoted to planning was the ratty Velociraptor suit of my brother’s which, given its design for a five year old, would not have fit in a comfortable or becoming manner.
So Australia and Asia were out. That still left pesky Antarctica, that vast frozen tundra of tap dancing, vomiting penguins. My grandmother once described it as “the worst smelling place [she had] ever encountered.” Apparently 10,000 birds all throwing up half-digested fish guts in order to feed their young does not make for a romantic cruise destination. Of course I have no cruise ship so that didn’t bother me. But seeing as how I also lack a plane ship, a teleporter ship, and an inclination to swim 20,000 miles, I had to think of something else to satisfy my Antarctic dream.
Like HP Lovecraft.
A few years ago my Fiction Forms class had to read ‘At the Mountains of Madness’. The idea of Antarctica as home to giant monsters of non-Euclidean form has always appealed to me. Who cares if the entire ice island smells like bird burps if on the other side of gigantic frozen mountains are alien ships and sights so horrible that Lovecraft thought he was justified in not describing them.
I may not have a plethora of geometry bending monsters in my closet, but I do have a mountain of poorly stacked cardboard boxes filled with my apartment belongings. Plus I needed to head out there today anyway to get my CSS books.
Since moving away from St. Louis for the first and second to last time, I have made no less than a dozen visits to the storage unit. When I moved I thought I had played it smart: separating out the items I needed for the spring semester from the accumulated “stuff” of three years. The problem is you never really know what counts as “essential”.
To you a Dutch Oven may be a strangely named cooking apparatus the likes of which you’ve never encountered in your waking life, but to me it is bastion of my sanity. I need my Le Creuset; it understands me in a way that most people don’t.
Tiny stapler? Random tube of chapstick? Tiny decorative boxes? How could I have ever abandoned you! I didn’t know how I would long for your presence from the moment I started searching for something more practical and came across you in a box titled ‘Box 11: Random Office.’ You are the Oxford Comma of my existence; I shall never abandon you again.
Every time I go out there I find 10 things I don’t need but am going to take with me anyway before forgetting what it was I was looking for. I then remember what it was I was looking for, decide I don’t need it anyway, and start to go home. Then I realize that the 10 new things are too much to carry in one arm load and decide I don’t really need them either. This is great in the respect that I don’t slowly transfer the storage unit into my bedroom closet at my parents’ house, but less great in the respect that I’m slowly rearranging all my initially well-packed boxes. By the time I find some permanent place to call home all my DVDs will be in ‘Bar Tools’ and my bar tools will be in ‘Sheets & Blankets’ and my blankets will be in ‘Calculus, Physics, Archeoastronomy’.
Fortunately, today I managed to escape the storage unit with the three books I intended to find, and a decision to abandon my search for the hard drive of mysterious hiding ability. I also briefly encountered souvenirs of Japanese origin and read the spine of a book about Alice Springs in Australia.
That’s not exactly like visiting 7 continents, but if Lovecraft can completely avoid physical description, I can avoid physical displacement in traveling. My dutch oven said so.