Look up lust in your thesaurus. Know what you’ll find? I’ll tell you.
Itch, passion, excitement, hunger. Get the picture? Make no mistake. Lust is not love. Lust is not affection or fondness or loyalty or regard.
Lust is heat. It’s new. It’s fresh.
And that, for some of us, is what we seek when we travel. Not so much in the guise of lovers as in location.
Away from the weeds, the worry, the inventory of things that need doing, we are different people, the world is a different place, The ordinary takes on a different meaning.
We can read for hours. We can draw. We can sit and listen to the radio without feeling self-conscious. The new gym is better.
Until the foreign becomes the familiar. Until we have appointments to keep and no one bothered to tell us Washington Street becomes Fifth Avenue or the 9th Street bridge is closed.
Until we look in the mirror and see the same body, the same extra weight, the same lines on our face. Until our insomnia returns and our bills catch up to us.
Until too many people recognize us and start to say hello. Until we learn a few things about the town and start weighing in on local issues.
But first the honeymoon, the excitement. It starts immediately.
With the blintzes we order in a deli, the parking space we find in front of the deli that has no meter, the movie theater that shows the absolute best art films, the day lilies down the street and how robust and tall they stand, the way the sun hits the houses in the hills at sunset, the escalator in a small, cozy neighborhood Barnes and Noble, the all-glass exterior in a public library, the way a computer man from Mac Doctors comes out to your house to help you.
The bipolar, ever-shifting weather.
At 4 o’clock in the afternoon, when someone says, “Let’s go outside and catch some warmth.” I have to laugh.
When someone else a few days later, someone wearing a black dress escorts me to her patio to SIT IN THE SUN, I have to laugh again.
In June, in summer, in Savannah, we do not do these things. We do not seek the sun in the middle of the afternoon.
We do not wear dark, heat-absorbing clothes. We are not crazy.
But in many parts of the country, like Pittsburgh, Pa., where I am spending a little time, the sun takes on a new meaning. So does rain.
We do not do rain in Savannah, I try to tell someone who is apologizing for the weather. It doesn’t even enter our consciousness.
For us, rain is good. It’s exciting. It’s refreshing. It’s new.
The same with hills.
A lot of this immediate love affair has to do with time. On vacation - or after a certain age - we have it.
Yesterday, pedaling up a steep Shady Avenue, past vast expanses of green lawn, healthy hostas, happy rose bushes, I feel a slight breeze on my leg, look back and spot a flat tire.
No matter! No swearing! I merely dismount, take my bike and start walking down (and up and down and up) toward Forbes Avenue in Squirrel Hill to the bike shop for the necessary repair.
I don’t care about the pathetic Pittsburgh Pirates who are in last place one rung below the Chicago Cubs, the Walgreens that developers are trying to put in a few blocks away, the new Schenley Plaza that old-timers are complaining about because this beautiful green space has replaced valuable parking.
It doesn’t bother me to be stuck on something called the Conrail Service Road after driving some Savannah friends to the downtown Amtrak station at 5 in the morning.
Or that a grand total of four trains now come through Pittsburgh a day. Or that winter is so sucky in this part of the world that people have to turn the water off to their sprinklers in October - and keep it off until June.
I don’t even care that I’m having trouble finding Whole Foods, aka Whole Paychecks, even though I found it once and know it’s a fabulous store.
That’s because I do know how to find the Giant Eagle supermarket (“Try one of our 123 organic produce items today”). And by mistake I came across the East End Food Cooperative, which is down the street.
I did start to get a bit irritated - and a little frightened on descending a long incline - earlier today when I began a bike ride under blue skies only to return home pelleted by huge rain drops.
But even that felt good. That’s the way it goes with passion. It’s very forgiving - for awhile at least. ç