Artifacts from the road

December 10th, 2013, 3pm

It was 1°C with few clouds. The breeze was gentle.

I travel for a living, and as such, have acquired a rich collection of friends who also travel all the time, frequently, or with reckless abandon in the rare moments they’re able to sneak away for a bit.

You would think this would give them insight into my possession situation: namely, that I don’t own many. Only what I can carry with me. Without checking luggage.

And yet every time I return home — whether to my parent’s house in Missouri for a holiday, or back to Missoula to visit the Asymmetrical Press office — I’m greeted by a pile of padded envelopes, boxes, and postcards, primarily from those road-friends, who for some reason enclose timely hellos they MUST have known I wouldn’t get until far after the informational expiration date of their message.

Inside the packages, I’ll always discover a strange assortment of found objects, ranging from seashells to secondhand books, tea bags to t-shirts. All of them utterly random and clearly with some intention behind them — the gifts are far too specific to just be happenstance — but usually lacking indication of what that intention might have been upon packing and sealing and sending the objets d’art to me.

What’s tragic is that these gifts are so interesting and bizarre, but I have no place for them. I actually thought about setting up some kind of Couchsurfing clone — an ongoing ‘white elephant’ gift exchange between people who find cool stuff, but have no one to share them with — but instead of allowing people to connect for the donation of sleep-space, it would be a way for people to send ‘artifacts from the road’ to each other.

Because that’s what they become, after a time. After living a full life, then being picked up — curated, really — by someone new, and then distributed/delivered/published(?) to someone else. Artifacts. Artifacts of many lives lived; worth sharing, even if those on one end of the transaction have place for such things in their bag.

David Wade, Tina, Chris, Lia and 6 others said thanks.

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Colin Wright

Author, entrepreneur, and full-time traveler / I move to a new country every four months based on the votes of my readers / My work ( / My blog ( / My publishing company (

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