After family, there are two things I absolutely love most in the world: travel, and San Francisco (and cask-strength single-malt whiskey). With this latest trip to New York City for the Thrillerfest conference, my love of travel is on life support. Or, maybe it’s dead and I just can’t admit it. I feel a sort of complicated grief inching up on me and I’m a little scared.

I have loved travel so much that my husband has some short-hand phrases when talking about where I might be off to next:

“Hey honey, come look at this YouTube. It’s showing a real Mysti hotel.”

“Is that a Mysti train or a regular train?”

“So, was United Polaris a Mysti experience or…?”

Why is this happening?

Of course, the pandemic has made certain aspects of travel unpleasant to terrifying, depending on your science education and rate of community spread (or are we just measuring hospital capacity now?). Compounding that, I have a knee that won’t fully extend and never will until it’s replaced, and a health issue that’s left me with very poor conditioning. As a result, it’s a wheelchair for me at most airports, and a battery-driven mobility cart for conferences and theme parks and anywhere I might have to walk more than one block. I’m scared to take the cart out of the hotel, so travel is what I can see from a variety of conveyances–chair/cart, or from the windows of planes, taxis, and hotels.

I literally do not know who I am if I’m not Mysti who loves to travel. Well, I am still Mysti who loves to argue. Mysti who loves San Francisco. But Mysti who giggles every time she thinks about riding a horse on a boat (ferry!)? Mysti who loves sitting in hotel lobbies just listening and watching everything that goes on? Mysti who still has so many corners of Central Park, The Met, and the rest of the world to explore? What will happen to her without this love of travel? I honestly don’t know.

What happens next?

There is still San Francisco and my family. And wicked great crime writing, as I am discovering at ThrillerFest this year. The vibe is a bit muted, but still chock-full of talent and ideas for how to write better, more compelling stories.

This conference is already a success, and I haven’t even paneled yet. Some friends have great news to share soon. Other friends have taken time out of their day here to boost me up. I’m grateful to have met so many good folks in my travels, and if I have to keep networks alive some other way than traveling, well, that’s just what I’ll have to do. Maybe that and pour out a glass of something in honor of my lost love, travel.

Now, to get back to the conference and to sharing LOW DOWN DIRTY VOTE with everyone! Because we have to defend the rights of everyone to vote, or we’ll all lose that right. The anthology has fantastic stories across nearly all crime sub-genres, with new voices and award-winning writers side by side. I might have to say goodbye to my love of travel, but I’ll never give up on democracy.

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