My grandmother, Gloria Clarke, has never been a jetsetter. She’s lived most of her life on the same plot of black Cajun farmland in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana. There were a few years in New Orleans, a spell in Michigan, package vacations to Britain and France. And then there were the road trips. She and my grandfather had an RV for about a decade, but even when the only wheels available were their beat up station wagon, they’d jump on any excuse to pile a motley assortment of friends and relatives into the car and take to the road. Nowhere was off limits.
Even though my grandmother’s travels have mainly been limited to places physically connected to her pine-carpeted driveway, she’s always managed to find something beautiful. She didn’t have to be an art historian, or a chef, or a scout for a record label. Her passport is a keen eye for a flea market and a palate refined by childhood on a farm. Never expecting to see the world’s great museums, she finds beauty in the mundane. Antique kitchen utensils, blue willow china, kid gloves, Indian arrowheads — my grandmother can smell culture at seventy five miles per hour.
Whether I’m traveling or at home, I strive to see the world through my grandmother’s eyes. I look for beauty where it’s scarce and revel in culture anytime it’s offered up. In this way, all my travels are travels with Gloria.