I’ve heard that I’m too idealistic. I get something in my head, some perfect image, and that’s the way I want things to be. For example, one of my favorite movies of all time is “Roman Holiday”, so naturally when I visited Rome I wanted to meet a gorgeous American journalist and see all of the sights from a small scooter and end up dancing on a barge at midnight. Of course I didn’t really expect this to happen, but what’s wrong with my romanticized version? (I did hit all of the “Roman Holiday” sights except for the Mouth of Truth. One day I shall return!). In Paris, I wanted to stroll down the Champs de Elysee with a fresh croissant. (I actually did that one, however, I did not get to accomplish my other goal and visit Jim Morrison’s grave). In Dublin, I imagined dancing a jig in a traditional pub to Irish folk music until the wee hours of the mornin’ (I did that too). I would love to visit St. Petersburg and take the train (I have no desire to jump in front of it), and walk through the rain in London (preferably while singing something from “My Fair Lady”). If (when) I visit Scotland, I will not leave without a trip to the Highlands to look for Nessie (eight-year old me would never speak to me again if I didn’t).
These aren’t unrealistic goals, right? Until I visit these places, what I know of them comes from the books and movies that I love. Literature especially gets ingrained in my head. I guess because I have to supply the imagery for myself, which makes me want to visit the real places and see how they match up. Sometimes, the picture in my head is dead on, like in the Irish pub. Other times, I’m way off. I remember reading about Dublin Castle and imagined a large stone structure with turrets and a drawbridge. In reality, my husband and I walked past it several times before we realized the large house/museum looking area was the “castle”. We did find one wall/turret that resembled the castle from my imagination and took all of our pictures there. Then we took a train to Malahide Castle, which was much more suitable, complete with an iron barred portico and sprawling gardens.
There are some places so wrapped in my imagination with the imagery from books and movies that I don’t know how I would untangle them. So what of it if I build up something in my imagination and then set off to make it happen? My dreams aren’t so big, they’re simple things like munching a flaky pastry in Paris. I always like to get a feel for local life and culture on my travels as well, can’t I balance the two? I found this article on the Top 10 Literary Cities (so far I’ve only been to #2 and #4) that tells you the places to go in these literary wonderlands to fulfill your bookish desires. Places like writers museums and reading rooms. (Take my advice and steer clear of Bram Stoker’s Dracula Experience in Dublin, though. It wasn’t the cool, scary, haunting time I thought it would be. It’s an arcade and “haunted funhouse” on the outskirts, i.e. a shady area, of Dublin. It sucked, pun unintended, and wasn’t at all scary. I dare say that Bram Stoker would send his blood-sucking monster to drain all those responsible for the travesty.)
For me, part of my idealism comes from wanting to step into the writers’ shoes. I want to feel what they felt when they wrote something. The smells, the click of my heels on the cobblestone streets, the sounds, the light drizzle of rain in my hair. It brings me a step closer to the worlds I love so much. Idealistic? Maybe. Imaginative? Very. And I’m okay with both.