I feel for Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Far From Home. All he wants is to get away and spend time with MJ, hoping for a sneaky kiss on the cheek as they take a gondola through Venice, or stroll through Paris.
He wants to switch off from the Avengers. To take a break from grieving the loss of Tony Stark. Instead, he’s stalked by Nick Fury and caught in the machinations of the cracked genius of Mysterio, while fighting to control his spider tingle. And, well, just be a teenager.
My teenage years are long gone but I did hope to shake off the shackles of the everyday on my annual pilgrimage to Whitby. Follow in Dracula’s footsteps, indulge my imagination at the windswept Abbey ruins. Stare at an actual Hand of Glory in all its gristle, and its neighbour in the Whitby Museum – the Tempest Prognosticator (a leech powered weather forecasting machine to you and I).
Like Peter Parker, I had high hopes. Like Peter, I found things can unravel quickly. On the journey I tripped over a grass hummock. A dinky little mound of grass, which I face planted with a squawk, has left me aching tip to toe. The dog keeps barfing under the bed at night.
Last night a stranger came waltzing in through the back door, looking for the bins for the house next door. My other half has created an elaborate barricade of kitchen chairs and heavy kettles to stop this happening again. It’s an Indiana Jones Raiders Of The Lost Ark style obstacle strewn death-run in the kitchen right now. Not exactly relaxing.
We invest so much emotional energy and money in planning our one-week escape. Two weeks, if we’re lucky. Build it up so high as the time we will reinvigorate ourselves, live our best lives, be culturally enriched. Or spend it elbow deep in booze and sun, and blot out the everyday drag. Whatever works for the individual.
Reality is less kind. Grey skies, broken accommodation, hummocks in the grass and dodgy WiFi conspire against us. These are the mundane realities of life regardless of where you might physically be. At least there are no monsters bursting out of the River Esk, or evil geniuses repurposing mollusc powered weather machines to wreak havoc on this misty Victorian town. Though right now nothing would surprise me.
It would be easy to be disillusioned. But like Peter, I’m looking for the sweet kiss in the moonlight. To get there we kind of have to go with the moment. And sometimes when things go wrong, they can trigger something so right that it raises a smile for months or years to come, bringing people closer together. The whole world is beautiful, if you look at it refracted through a rainbow after the storm.
As Peter found, when he went with the flow rather than attempting to plan perfect, he came by a circular route to a place where perfect found him. I’m taking a lesson from that, as I sit, feet up, coffee in hand gazing dreamily at the romantic ruins of Whitby Abbey from my borrowed living room. Sometimes the obstacles in your way point you in the direction you needed to be going all along. There are times to just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Do you find travelling soothing or fraught with peril? What has been your favourite experience, or perhaps your funniest? Have you travelled to indulge your inner geek, such as to a convention, and found that it meets your expectations? All comments welcome.
Thanks, as always, for reading.