I was delighted to read this latest installment in the Tour Guide series. We’ve had Destinations of Waiting, Love, and Joy, as well as Toxic Destinations, and now we get to enjoy Destinations of Beauty. As you’ve been writing these, have you noticed any unexpected patterns, or any trends?
I’ve found I’m writing about a certain kind of nostalgia—a sense of loss/longing for a present moment which has eluded our grasp. Much of this, I imagine, comes from parenthood. My son is headed off to college next year and there’s a great awareness of just how quickly time passes and how easily we can fall into the illusion of having “more time.” I’m thinking here of the moments when our children ask us to play but we’re too busy (often for legitimate reasons!) and yet, soon they’ve grown and are no longer asking us to chase them around the house or jump on the bed or have a water gun fight. In retrospect, these fleeting moments are like destinations I temporarily visited. I think there’s also a Buddhist humor running beneath many of these tales. A way that the present moment, which is always willing to provide us with the perfect destination, will eternally be the one we miss as we rush off to complete our travel itinerary checklists.
I think The Café Taliche in this month’s story might be my favorite destination so far. Do you have a favorite of your own in the series?
That’s great to hear! The Café Taliche is one of my favorites, too. I actually had the benefit of visiting a café like this in real life. It was after a day of hiking in the French alps. I was cradling heartbreak and sort of stumbling through the mountains without fully experiencing their beauty. And then, sure enough, I found myself at this incredible tiny café, full of sunshine and fresh cheese, and a cold mug of ale. It was the elixir of heartbreak which made that moment all the more transcendent. It reminded me of a quote of Rumi’s: “There’s a secret medicine given only to those who hurt so hard they can’t hope.” This was the sentiment I was trying to capture in that piece. As for the actual name of that café and where to find it? I have no clue! It remains a completely mysterious oasis because—just like the story—I didn’t take a matchbook, napkin, or postcard with me.
Where are you planning to travel and do once the world opens up again?
Iceland’s certainly on my list, along with Hawaii and Portugal—but first and foremost, I want to travel to see my family and friends again. As for what I’m looking forward to doing, I can’t wait to go to restaurants, concerts, plays, dance performances, poetry readings, museums, water parks, ski mountains, and anywhere that people are dancing and making music.
For readers interested in more of your work, what would you recommend they try next?
My collections Universal Love and Children of the New World are a great place to find my short stories. Stories from these collections are headed to the big screen in the coming year—so readers interested in my work will be able to see films soon as well. You can also find my new fiction, interviews, and magical realist stories online on FB (@alexanderwfiction) and Instagram (alexwfiction).
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