Jul 162012

It’s over.

I have two days left in the United States of America, three if you count the 12 hours I will spend in a train on Wednesday returning from San Francisco to LA, four if you count the day I spend in US air space getting from LA to JFK in NYC, airport to airport.

That leaves two precious days, one of which is already half gone; spent, like rare coin, in Starbucks.

I know, I can feel the collective shudder of the Australian nation: Starbucks?

I am tying up loose ends from the book tour: free to spend hours and hours accessing high speed free internet for the price of one drink; enjoying the company of strangers in an easy welcoming public place; now and then tuning into the always great sound track in the ceiling above me; sending thank you notes, three months’ worth; unscrambling writers’ notes scrawled on scraps of paper stuffed in my bag; making iPhone travel notes – details of hotel bookings, train schedules and, importantly, flight times.

I am, after all, leaving the US with exactly 65 minutes left on my visa; I need to get it right.

Sunday San Francisco Starbucks swirls around me. I love it here – see? I’m nostalgic already. Starbucks – as with so many American icons – make sense in the USA. It is when they colonise other cultures they are problematic; but in their own land, as an expression of their own culture, they make truly perfect sense.

Standing in the forever queue that spilled out the door, a sight that is replicated all over the country, I wondered why so many of us love Starbucks so much we are willing to wait this long for a coffee.

Or, in my case, a soy chai latte.

It’s partly the logo. She’s beautiful.

And it’s lotly the service.

My order goes like this:

Her:  Can I help you?

Me:  Soy chai latte thanks.

Her:  Name?

Me:  No water thanks.

Her:  Name?

Me:  With 3 pumps of chai.

Her:  Name?

Me:  And extra foam (that’s their word for froth. Finally I have learned to say it.)

Her:  Name?

Me:  Stephanie.

And that’s all there is to it. No attitude. Just my soy chai latte made exactly as I want it, every time, deliciously, richly, spicily, not too sweet with lashings of billowing creamy froth.

And here I sit, lamenting three months in a foreign country that feels so much like home it feels like going away, rather than moving on; as if I am leaving home, rather than traveling through; as if I belong here rather than have no right to return other than through the grace of strangers defending a border.

Oh dear, there are tears in my eyes.

I am a traveler. Moving on is my way. I have awherever I hang my hat’ kind of life. Yet I cannot wrap my bones around the notion I do not belong here. That a three month book tour is finished. Perhaps it’s the fact I signed that book deal a year ago – and spent an entire year working towards this, and three months devoted to doing whatever was asked from me: all in the name of My Pilgrim’s Heart.

Yes, that’s probably it. Not just leaving the USA, leaving an entire intense stage of a middle aged life.

Trading absolute focus for the wide open plains of a world beyond a land called Booktour.

I have my thoughts about what I will do . . . visit friends in London and soak up the Olympic city . . . watch my mother go for gold in the world tennis championships in Croatia . . . I may walk El Camino again . . . I may pay homage to the funniest year of my life and visit Hopeman, a small fishing village in the far north east of Scotland where four strong sun-tanned Australian teenagers landed overnight in 1975 . . . all the while with my eye on the true prize:  wintering at the North Pole.

In reality I have only one goal: to stay north of the Equator for a year.

Last night I celebrated lifting my hat from its US peg with a fine wine and a tiramisu; I was fresh from the final literary event of the tour – a big crowd and a panel of San Francisco writers; anticipating a TV interview and back to back radio interviews tomorrow.

Loose ends. Or, in my case, ever and always, the absence of.


 July 16, 2012  Tagged with: , , ,

  3 Responses to “Pilgrim Heart Whistlestop Book Tour: A WORLD WIDE OPEN”

  1. Here is a nice poem you may appreciate.

    The lioness needs, for her appointing,
    no ceremony, no anointing;
    Her deeds of heroism bring
    Her fortune. Nature crowns her queen.
    The elephant is the lion’s meat.
    With drops of trickling ichor sweet;
    Though lack thereof should come to pass,
    The lioness does not nibble grass.

  2. hi ya steph
    a big salute to you on the end of your book tour – until the next one. I’m sure you’ve won a lot of hearts and hopefully sold more books than that. btw – I really enjoyed MPH and look forward to discussing it with you some day.

    happy travels north of the equator – as always you are an inspiration for going where the wind takes you.
    lotsa love dines xx

  3. Hey Dines, Hey Brian, thank you both xx

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.