I bought a plane ticket. In a month - barring the catastrophic prospect of a job offer - I'm flying to Atlanta to see some friends. I've never been to Atlanta. I've been through Atlanta, on six lanes of I-75, with my fingers white-knuckled on the steering wheel, trying desperately to see the city without crashing and finding myself at the bottom of a massive pileup. From that fleeting vantage point, flying between the freeway walls far beneath the skyscrapers, Atlanta looks like a pretty cool city. Soon, I'll know for sure. Cuz I bought the plane ticket.
I don't know when or how the travel bug bit me. And I hate using the term travel bug because it makes me think of tourists with cameras who sneak out the hotel to take self-portraits in front of landmarks and eat at the same restaurants they have back home. I want to distance myself from that as much as possible. (Sidenote: To make this specific experience more authentically Atlantan, I requested to my friend Joel that we go to Chick-fil-A.) And besides, most people claim to be ill with the travel bug. If you asked a roomful of people if they liked to travel, they'd probably all raise their hands. Everybody wants to travel. It's just that not everbody can, because of time, responsibility, or money. I have time. I only have a little responsibility. The thing I lack is money. Two out of three ain't bad.
But money... that's something to address. There isn't much I want to spend money on right now. But there are lots of places I want to see. I would rather have an experience than a product anyday. I would rather cross another destination off my list than a household appliance. That will change once I get out of my parents house and into the world, where you actually have to spend money on little things like heat and electricity and space to call a home. But I love being able to tell people that I've been there, wherever there is.
There are, I think, different levels of being somewhere. You don't really ever know a place until you call it home. I know Michigan. And you definitely haven't seen a place until you've gotten away from your hotel room and the theme parks and arcades and strip malls. Otherwise, you've only been to little pockets of places at best, where the locals don't go and if they do, they're wearing their work uniforms. I can say that I've seen Orlando, even though I never went to Disney. I've been to Sandusky, but I haven't really seen it. And you definitely haven't been to a place if you've only passed through it.
There are lots of places I've passed through, and Atlanta is among them. Soon, I'll be able to say I've been there. Hopefully, I'll see it too.