Perhaps it was the talisman but I took my savings and signed up to join the merchant marines. Soon I would be leaving everything that was familiar behind. People said I was still a young man so it was a good thing to see the world. I wrote a letter to my mother who was in the land bound town I grew up in, the place I left because I couldn’t stand the thought of always wondering what was over the next hill. This thought had vanished when I found the open sea stretching out before my eyes.
Before I was to leave I went back to find the curio shop where I had found the talisman. It wasn’t there. I traced my exact steps from the pier that day when I had encountered the little shop with the beautiful, oriental lady. I knew these little lanes along the waterfront by heart. I tried to find the corner I turned but only found the same familiar lanes and shops. There was no oriental curio shop. There was no vacant shop in its place. It was as if I had imagined it or dreamed it but the talisman was in my possession. I had it in my inner coat pocket. I felt delirious. Had I been lost? I wandered farther in surrounding areas but these places, also familiar to me, did not make sense with the memory I had of that day when I found the shop, the lady and the talisman.
With the merchant marines I traveled the world over and over. I realized the dream of mine to visit the South Seas and the Orient. This was only after many a cold journey in Northern waters to places like Finland and Sweden. I enjoyed England, France and the Mediterranean. My first storm at sea was the most incredible display of the power of Nature, beyond my imagination.
When I finally was bound to the South Seas of the Pacific and the Orient beyond I was overjoyed at the leaping dolphins in the sparkling blue waters. I was amazed by the flying fish skimming over the waves amid bright reflections. There were the hot, summer nights so balmy with the iridescent glowing spots of mysterious night fish. I felt in a wonderland.
And then there was the Orient. I found myself wandering down streets and narrow lanes in Hong Kong and Shanghai. These were places I had heard of and read about and I was there. It was like hundreds of Oriental curio shops. I was surrounded by them. Mysterious Oriental men, mysterious Oriental women and children. The children looked intently at me as I went walking by with mysterious little smiles on their upturned faces. When I went to sleep at night I thought of the dream I had when I first acquired the talisman in which I felt I was lost in a foreign land and could not find my way back. I did not however feel anxious about it as I had when I dreamed it. I was living my dream and everything was as it should be. I knew I would be able to find my way home or at least I thought I was sure of that.
I tried to stay in the Orient for as long as I could but my contract with the shipping company that had brought me there required for me to continue on to India and Africa. In fact I was to circumvent the globe returning to the cold Atlantic and ending my journey on the east coast of America.
From there I spent time traveling and living in parts of America I had not known before. I had many adventures and fulfilled a dream of visiting the East coast and learning of it. However since the only way I could make my living was as a sailor I had to find a ship that needed a hired hand. Soon I was on my way to parts unknown. From Norwegian fjords to tropical atolls, from cosmopolitan cities to farming communities I satisfied my curiosities about the world and the people in it.
Everywhere I traveled I met the most beautiful and interesting women. Sadness came at last when I thought how none of my love interests stayed in my life. I wrote many romantic letters. I gave significant gifts. I had happy memories but in the end they all turned bittersweet. The more I loved a woman, the more fleeting she became. When I thought of all the possessions I had lost along the way in my travels curiously the talisman had always remained.