Once you had traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers

sea bird

Even a sea bird’s got to rest sometime

Unknown to any of us, she had reopened diplomatic channels with my grandfather, rekindled whatever amity or affection the Depression had extinguished, and wrote him engaging, sisterly letters throughout her peregrinations. Whether out of a sense of privacy or tact, he never mentioned those letters to anyone; my grandfather Wingo was the only one in our town who was not stunned when our grandmother arrived back in Colleton after an absence of more than twenty years and went directly to his house on Barnwell Street, unpacked her clothes, and placed them in the same chest of drawers she had abandoned so long ago. “Even a sea bird’s got to rest sometime” was the only thing she offered as explanation to anyone. Ten trunks full of the most marvelous and useless exotica followed her to Colleton, and her house overflowed with much of the eccentric memorabilia of the planet that had struck her fancy. My grandfather’s living room, which had been so quintessentially southern, filled up with African masks and art, ceramic elephants from Thailand, and trinkets from every bazaar she had plundered in Asia. Each item had a story behind it, a country, a specific set of adventures, and she could retrace her steps by letting her eyes circle the room, Her secret, we would discover, was that once you had traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers, that the mind can never break off from the journey.

by Pat Conroy (born October 26, 1945)
from The Prince of Tides, 1986

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