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Wherever I go, I make trails – of my stuff. Meaning I always leave things behind. I’m just that disorganized about gear. It’s a curse. I put something down, my mind’s already on the next thing, and out the door I go. I do this at home with drinking glasses, mugs and laundry. I have left perfectly good, not-cheap water bottles in the Old City of Jerusalem and at the outdoor used book stalls in Valparaiso, Chile, only discovering my mistake when I’m, say, in the desert or Patagonia. An Egyptian cruise boat snagged a T-shirt. More trains and buses have swallowed more of my snacks than I have. Thankfully I’ve never (knock wood) lost anything major – I manage to hold on to my shoes, pack and sleeping bag (though I think I did sacrifice sneakers to Europe one summer).

The one that kills me, though, is the pack towels. I love them – so thin and light, so absorbent and yet quick drying. I hate traveling wet. I love traveling fast and light. It’s totally a travel geek thing, but there it is. And yet, I loose them. All. The. Time. I should invest in my own towel company – except Rick Steves already has.

What do you lose?

Thursday night after class I drove to Brooklyn. I’m still working out the best route – and taking suggestions, in anyone has them, for Albany to the far side of Prospect Park. Mapquest suggests cutting through lower Manhattan, but I get so lost it takes an extra half hour at least. I tried another route, through the Battery Park tunnel – except not, because the tunnel was closed late night, I wound up on the FDR heading north, panicked, but eventually managed to take the Manhattan Bridge (after a few illegal U-turns on and around Canal).

I hate NYC driving.

One moment of grace. Before the tunnel closed – before I got all turned around – I landed on the West Side Highway shortly after midnight. WFUV played something like modern lounge music, lilting and jazzy, tinkly and floating, like music out of Lost in Translation but softer and soaring. The lights bounced around the river. The apartment buildings crammed with people fled by, all around me millions of people going about their nights, the warmth of their lives beaming through the illuminated windows. The city was mine, the highway a silent rocket to the future, and the music lifted me above it all. It was a lovely moment, the kind that only comes alone, when a city quiets and you have a chance to appreciate the humanity it offers. Lovely.