This morning, as happens most mornings, I was taking a look at my user stats. I've long since stopped caring how many people read this blog (It's not very many people, but it's certainly more than I ever expected.), but I'm very interested in where they're from, and I like checking the location page in the morning because that's when I'm most likely to see that a majority of the twenty most-recent readers are from outside the U.S. Most mornings, it's still pretty close to 50/50 American/non-American, but if I see more recent readers from away than from home, I take it as a good omen for the day. I was in particular need of a good omen this morning because as I was sitting in my car, waiting to make the turn onto the block where my building sits, a blue jay dropped from the sky onto the road in front of me, dead. Had it been a pigeon, I might have been able to ignore it as urban background noise, but the sudden and plop-ful arrival of a dead blue jay is hard to take as anything other than a harbinger of doom. You may want to be especially nice to your loved ones today, just in case tomorrow sees fit not to arrive.
Sadly, eleven of nineteen recent visitors (there is often one whose location is "unknown," which I prefer to think of as a metaphysical state rather than a failure of technology) this morning were domestic, and that would have been an end of it had I not noticed that I had a visitor from Zoetermeer, the twelfth most populous city in Holland (Please note: I really did have a visitor from Zoetermeer, but that twelfth-most-populous thing and any other data I may throw out are mostly just made up; if you really care how many people live in Zoetermeer and/or whether there are eleven more populous cities in the Netherlands, then I'm sure you can find out. Also, I mean no disrespect whatsoever to Zoetermeer, which appears, from the pictures I've seen, to be a lovely town. I'm just too lazy to find out.) and Europe's fourth leading consumer of Gjetost. Zoetermeer is, apparently, in a province called Zuid-Holland, and on a map, it appears to be a stone's throw from both Amsterdam and Utrecht. If you have a really, really strong arm, or maybe a missile launcher.
I have always wanted to go to Amsterdam (though not so much to Utrecht, as I don't really have much need for drafting supplies), and I suppose that there's a decent chance I'll get there someday, but I have no plans for foreign travel in the foreseeable future. The dollar recently staged a mild rally, but it was still horribly weak against the Euro (and most everything else), and the incipient increase in the U.S. money supply that will be necessary to bail out the financial industry is likely to send the dollar skittering to new lows. So Europe, especially, seems out of the question in the near term. Which means my chances of catching a picture out a train window as we speed past Zoetermeer (which translates as either "Sweet Lake" or "Sea of Overbaked Pastry," depending on how much you've had to drink) on our way to or from Amsterdam are probably slim to none.
Financial considerations aside, I have very mixed feelings about travel. On the one hand, it's immensely fun, and you get to see a lot of things that you wouldn't otherwise see. On the other hand, I always suspect that people who have their best and/or most interesting times when they're away from home are either demonstrating a lack of substance (Some people are born drifters, and there's nothing wrong with or insubstantial about that, but those people carry their homes with them.) or need to move. Back on the first hand, I think that I usually see more attractive men when I'm traveling. But then on the other hand, again, it's easier to hook up when I'm home.
Of course, I don't think that a desire to stay home necessarily indicates the presence of substance. A lot of people just don't want to travel because they're either narrow minded or xenophobic. I will never forget the time that I was alone on a flight back from Paris (because b&c thought that he had lost his passport -- or so he claims: it mysteriously reappeared in his suitcase after I got on the plane and he headed off to the embassy, and he got an extra day in Paris, alone), and there was a group of young (somewhere between sixteen and twenty, I think) American tourists (By the way, it is absolutely, positively worth going to see Vicky Cristina Barcelona just to see the venom with which Maria Elena -- played by Penelope Cruz -- utters the phrase "turistas Americanas.") , one of whom said, "I'll be glad to get home to mac and cheese and Taco Bell; I've had about all of that baguette crap I can take." Travel evidently didn't broaden the horizons of that young woman.
I like to think that I'm sufficiently open minded that I can broaden my horizons by inviting the world to me rather than by going out to see the world. In practice, I think that means where you used to see those graphics showing all the countries that someone has visited, I'd prefer to have a graphic showing all the countries-of-birth for the guys I've fucked. I think you can see how challenging it might be to darken the entire map, even with years and years of effort. There are a number of countries (Belarus, Slovenia, Surinam, and North Korea leap to mind, but I'd probably have to do a lot of research to make a complete list, and, well, you see how little research I was willing to do about Zoetermeer, which really cries out for research, given that it has the fifth largest gay pride celebration among cities where more than twelve percent of the land mass is below sea level.) that don't export many bottoms to the U.S., and, worse, the world map is constantly changing. Right now there isn't an independent Kurdistan or South Ossetia (as far as I know), but someday there might be. I'm sure I could put an ad on craigslist for a submissive Kurd, but my window of opportunity for a South Ossetian (i.e., the period of time between when the breakaway republic leaves Georgia and joins Russia, unless that's already happened, in which case it's already too late) might be so small that I will have forever lost my chance.
All of this is, sadly, compounded by the perilous position of America in the world. I think by now we can all agree that the 20th century was the American century. Back when I was born, there was no more fortunate place to be born than in America, and that's almost certainly no longer the case. These days, you're probably most fortunate to be born in Europe, but China will almost certainly be the dominant power by the end of the 21st century. I, for one, welcome our new Chinese overlords, mostly because I know that people who are in positions of great authority are highly likely to be sexually submissive, and a big crop of cute, submissive, small-cocked, smooth, uncut Chinese guys seems like more than adequate compensation for losing whatever status accompanies being a citizen of the world's greatest superpower. Especially if, like me, you're inherently suspicious of nationalism. In any case, I plan to be ready. The money I save from not traveling can be ploughed back into (sorry) the farm, so that in twenty-five years, when the regional governor comes to collect tribute, I'll be able to offer him, in addition to the government's share of fruit from my orchards, the hospitality of my dungeon.