Current Event Fridays

Once a week, Social Studies class would stray from textbooks. We wouldn’t read about national politics or international affairs or whatever else was of importance to sixth graders that week. Instead, it was Current Events Friday. We were instructed to inspect our local Times (there being only two in our small town) for a single news item we were to read aloud in class. There were no rules, of course; the significance of “news” was left up to us. Twenty-six student clippings later — tag sales, local basketball games, an occasional mayoral event, the current rollerskating champion — we were proud. These weren’t by any means the stories Ms. Lyons had in mind, but they were what mattered. They were our stories.

I assumed everyone had Currents Event Fridays just like I assumed everyone peg-legged their jeans and had friends who wrote fictional Duran Duran novels in blue-book notebooks. Sometimes that line between you and the rest of the world is blurry. But then you travel.

Travel for good.

Travel, as it happens, as exhausting, as far, and as many security gates or toll booths as it requires, gives us distance but also perspective. From recent research we even find that travel can make us more creative, perhaps smarter. I think that might be going a bit far. But still.

There are only a few rules I try to follow as a person. One is never to run (except every morning). The other is to accept every invitation, advice a friend gave me over 10 years ago. And I believe this. Accept every invitation to go without compromising, of course, your time to stay. Accept new ideas. Travel widely. Shallowly even. Travel within your own city. But travel.

“To travel,” it’s difficult to remember, isn’t always synonymous with “to leave.” But it’s in that word, no matter its currency, that we find new stories. And I still have a thing for Fridays.