In response to Dilly-Dally

Dilly-Dally synonyms: dawdle, delay, hesitate, linger, loiter, meander, mosey, procrastinate, vacillate….

OK. I admit it. I looked ahead.

I wasn’t really feeling anything from any of these synonyms, so I looked a few of them up and picked the one with the most promising synonyms for the next round.


Don’t get me wrong. Meander’s a fine word, even if I did sort of meander into it. Now that I’m starting to write about it, meander’s kinda growing on me. That tends to happen a lot with me, meandering into just the right place.

In fact, meandering is pretty much baked into my character.

Conceived in Italy, born in West Germany, Raised in the U.S.A. but first and always a Canadian, Patrick wasn’t so much born to travel as he was born traveling.

So went the one-sentence bio I used when looking for publishers and agents to take on the anthology of travel stories I’d written while, well, meandering around several continents for several years. It occurs to me now that “meander” and “meandering” could easily replace “travel” and “traveling” in that bio. Perhaps that’s not the best way to sell yourself when you’re trying to be a travel writer.

I’ve meandered through my professional life too. I discovered photography in high school, and followed it for a year after I graduated, studying photographic illustration at Rochester Institute of Technology, in upstate New York. (One of the top photography schools in the US, btw, and Kodak headquarters right next door. They were like the Amazon of photography and film back then, at the end of the 1970s.)

A year of that and I realized that as much as I loved photography, maybe making a career of it really wasn’t for me. So. A year off from school. Lived at home with the ‘rents. Got a job ski patrolling at the local mountain. Saved up enough to … well … meander through Europe for a couple months. First-class Eurail pass. Perfect!

Well, almost perfect. My sister came along for the first two weeks. Although it was the first time either of us had ever traveled without our parents, it became clear almost immediately our ideas on how to travel diverged significantly. In fourteen days of train travel (and a ferry from Greece to Italy) we stopped in, Athens, Brindisi (Italy), Venice, Florence, Brook an der Mur (Austria), Vienna (just for an afternoon!), Salzburg (Austria), Grindlewald (Switzerland), Baden-Baden (Germany, where we were both born), Koln (I think… Germany) and Rome.

For me, that’s not traveling. That’s a car chase in a Jason Bourne film. It’s emphatically not meandering. And I’m pretty sure I missed a couple stops in that itinerary.

We often took overnight trains, both to save money on accommodation, and to “see more of the cities”.

OK. We were in Europe. It was beautiful, fascinating, illuminating, extraordinary … exhilarating. Among those two weeks were most of the best days I’d ever lived, even if it did at times feel like I was in the back seat of a car careening through narrow Roman streets, with half of Interpol on our tails.

But after those two weeks were up… I was done. I slowed down. Took trains during the day, so I could watch the countryside roll by. Stayed several days in the cities I’d visit. I also dropped the idea of an itinerary, planning several cities in advance. By the end of the first month, I’d begun just heading to the train station whenever it felt time to leave. On arrival, I’d just check the departure boards for the next train heading for an interesting destination.

That’s a fair indication of how I explore cities, as well. I like to spend a day or two wandering the streets. No maps. No destination. Just, well, meander. Make choices about direction at every intersection based on gut, intuition, whatever feels right.

For the next day or so, I’d pull out the guidebook and maps, and try to figure out what kind of “must see” places my meanderings hadn’t brought me to. By the end of the trip, my gut and instincts were so well honed, there usually weren’t many must-see places left.

After two months meandering through Europe it was time to head back home to New Hampshire and figure out what came next.

But it’s late, and this post is already pretty long, so I’ll put what happens next off to the next post.

Can anyone guess which synonym I’m going to pick for part Two?

Want to Play?

First, pick a synonym from below. Now tell us what you picked in a comment. If you like, add a few words (or a bunch of words) about why you picked it. Or maybe use it to inspire a poem or micro-fiction or…

EZPZ, right? Just play nice. (Check out the conditions of play if you’re not sure what that means. 😉 )

You can also play by replying to any of the comments. Use a thesaurus to find a synonym for the word in the comment, and reply with that.

Advanced Play

Want to play the advanced game? Use your synonym as inspiration to create a new blog post: words, images, sound, video … just about anything, really.

You can think of this game as a one-word creativity prompt. Rather than give you the one word, I’m giving you a list of synonyms to choose your one word from.

Here are the rules.

Some Meander Synonyms:

drift, ramble, roam, snake, stray, stroll, traipse, gallivant, peregrinate, rove, vagabondmore synonyms


Come Out and Play!

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