Vita’s very name had the word “life” built into it. And, for her, the crux of true, pure living was being in constant motion. In short, traveling. It was the closest any human could get to ever making the most out of an existence that society had tried to condition all it reigned over to believe that “vacationing” was a sin. And this, ultimately, was what traveling was associated with: being on a vacation. A reprieve from “real life”–which the majority had decided should be largely monotonous and displeasurable. For Vita, however, “vacationing” was a norm. How she lived in her week-to-week and month-to-month. Sometimes, if she was particularly yearning, even her day-to-day (though that was contingent on being somewhere like France or Italy, where “day trips” were easy without a car).
Her lack of concern with beauty products and pristine hygiene in comparison to the average Western woman also made it easier for her to dispense with convention. With the expectation of being “normal” and falling in line. It also, for some reason, seemed to make her a magnet for freaks. Men who thought because of her “dirty” “rough-hewnness” and “adventurous spirit” that she would be down for just about anything, most obviously a fling. Not so, of course. Men were an occasional distraction. A device she used only when paid, drunk enough or feeling as though she wanted to “clean the pipes.” Still, they were part of the (sexual) stamps in her passport, even if only speaking metaphorically. For one couldn’t truly know about a culture until they’d fucked someone from it.
To support her unquenchable wanderlust–what some (actually many) would call her addiction–Vita had long ago made herself amenable to “odd jobs.” Whether working on farms in exchange for lodging, teaching English (she was originally from Dorchester) or, in a pinch, prostituting herself in a more literal way, Vita was consistent in procuring the finances required to remain perpetually on the move. It was her high, the only thing that got her off. For there was no better feeling, no more serene sense of simultaneous invigoration and calm than arriving in a new place–and how easily the stains or unwanted memories of other places could wash away in so doing. Not that she had a surfeit of such memories, but, of course, whenever she got too involved in a place (a.k.a. started to be too “known” both platonically and romantically), something programmed within her immediately shouted, “Leave! Book a flight somewhere far away!” And she did. It was the most undiluted form of liberty a human could ever know.
In the present, it was gone. Although five years had already passed since the borders had closed, Vita could still remember her last trip like it was yesterday. She had flown from Caracas to Curaçao, where prostitution was only legal for foreigners (in some strange loophole that felt decidedly discriminatory in its own way, not to mention encouraging of human trafficking, but hey, who was Vita to complain about making “easy” money?). She’d been trapped there ever since, refusing repatriation back to Britain multiple times before the UK and all other countries gave up on trying to deport people to their homelands. Now, the trip had become her everyday nightmare: sheer sameness, hopeless banality.
While she still managed to survive, securing lodging at the depressing Miramar “Beachfront” Apartments thanks to sucking off the owner regularly, she wanted more. She wanted to leave. And to be able to leave and leave and leave from wherever the fuck she wanted again. As it used to be. But that life could never return so long as the borders were closed, and air travel an exclusive privilege of the rich or masochistic. These borders that would be seemingly ad infinitum sealed despite collective government reassurance of “reopening”–that all would be well again, just as soon as there was a viable way to contain the contagion. Sure, “just as soon as” being the omnipresent operative phrase. Well, forever needed to come to an end. Today. Or Vita was going to have to kill herself. There was simply no other option. For this existence was as deadening as death itself, she knew for certain in her very core. She had to get out–to be free. Immediately.
She had made the decision the instant she opened her eyes that morning. It was winter in Curaçao. It lent the island a more morose tinge than usual, even if tourism hadn’t been felt in the summer months for years. There was a palpable haze of gray. Of stagnation and suffering. That Vita no longer wanted to be part of. So it was that she seemed, out of a miraculous nowhere, to summon the power to disseminate the aggregated particles of her body to another milieu. She focused on the Amalfi Coast, and brought herself there, where the scene, though sunnier, was still decidedly bleak. Face shields and masks and white jumpsuits and plexiglass and latex gloves; fear and phobia. No sign of the once vibrant, vivacious Southern Italian culture she had formerly recognized.
So it was that she was crippled with the epiphany that the thing about willing teleportation in a state of the world being so decidedly shit, well, everywhere, was that it only seemed to make Vita all the more nostalgic for the past. A past where people weren’t afraid of one another, where interactions and transactions were allowed to be tactile.
The prospect of meeting and engaging meaningfully with new people while traveling was so infinitesimal at this juncture. What she needed, then, was not the ability to teleport, but a full-stop time machine (a different form of teleportation altogether–which she might just master if she didn’t spontaneously combust first). For the blunt truth she was bludgeoned with in each city or remote town that she teleported to was that all uniqueness of culture had vanished. She could be anywhere and it wouldn’t change the reality: loneliness and despair remained the norm no matter where she tried to escape. Though if she had to die of sadness and a deep burning for a bygone era, she supposed she would opt for the Maldives. Being always drawn back to, inevitably, an island. Maybe to spite John Donne for being so short-sighted as to assert that no man is one. In the modern world, that’s all he can afford to be.