“Traveling is a brutality.”
Given that Outside In focuses on travel and journeys, ostensibly regarding them as pleasurable, this quote from Italian poet and novelist Cesare Pavese, might seem like an odd choice for the opening remarks of Issue Thirteen. And yet, I believe there is truth to this statement, especially as Pavese continues: “It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.”
When so much is unfamiliar and so little can be claimed as a traveler’s own, the smallest acts of kindness from strangers—that one would take a moment to offer directions as you squint to read your map in the fading afternoon light, to lend a hand as you try to cram your embarrassingly overstuffed backpack into the train’s overhead rack, or even just to offer a warm expression, a look of understanding, a smile—help to balance the scales once again, to remind you of the goodness of those things which are yours— the air you breathe, your sleep and dreams, the memories and moments that you will take home because they have become a part of who you are.
This month, as we debut the new Photostories format, it seems fitting, then, for our first to be “A Smile from a Stranger.” A smile not only often represents the opening of a door, a first tentative welcome to someplace new, but is also universally familiar, even at times when nothing else is. Check out great photos by Elizabeth Titus, Cindy Estelle-Stauffer, Adrian Schulte, Susana Case, Adrian Mangiuca, Oliver Gray, and Brandi Dawn Henderson that provide snippets of their journeys across India, Nicaragua, China, Tennessee, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Swaziland, through the smiles of the strangers who brightened them. Each month we will accept photos on a new theme, allowing us to share more individual moments or snapshots into the journeys of our contributors. The theme for June is “What I Brought Back” and will focus on the more tangible side of travel—the memories evoked through the objects we choose to bring home.
Check out great work by our contributors in other genres this month, including nonfiction pieces by Darla Reed on dancing (literally) her way into a new culture and from Adrian Mangiuca, who introduces us to Patty (an eighty-something year old woman working at a truck stop Pizza Hut), along with a pair of pieces from a mother-daughter duo. Margaret Elysia Garcia writes about how a love for writing was passed down from her mother and how she now sees the same love developing in her daughter, Paloma Garcia-Couoh, who is just eight years old. We are proud to have included Paloma’s first published poem along with illustrations. Shenan Prestwich‘s short fiction elicits breathtaking images of horses in the sea, and Edward Perlman‘s trenchant poem Cartagena is the perfect introduction to this month’s remarkable poetry collection. And, as always, remember to take a moment (as that is all they require) to appreciate our microjourneys.
We hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as we have. As always, keep journeying, keep writing, and keep submitting!
Click the menu on the left, or here, to get started.