Going through some posts on a favourite travel site, I got to thinking about the life of a traveler, when not traveling. Mainly mine, and what I’m going to do about it.
An obvious observation is that the longer you are away, the weirder it is when you return. Coming home from a 2 week vacation on a tropical island will have you wishing you had more time to relax, but walking in your front door won’t feel much different. Coming home from a 6 month trip in a completely different culture than my own had me heading home from the airport staring in wonder at the roads I used to drive everyday, when I realized they hadn’t changed at all in my absence. The day after arriving home I went to the grocery store and found myself completely intimidated by a place I’d been countless times, not knowing which way to navigate the aisles, and finding the vast selection extremely overwhelming. I can imagine how strong that feeling might be after traveling for an even longer period. (un?)Fortunately, that feeling only lasted about one week, after which I started to feel as though I had never left. That feeling got me completely terrified. It got me thinking about the not so mild panic attack I experienced on the last leg of my journey home, sitting next to a giant Texan who wouldn’t stop babbling about his disappointment with our 6 hour delay. I sat ignoring him trying to calm my nerves. These weren’t the same nerves that had me clutching the plane’s armrests after our plane had landed in India for the first time – those were nerves of uncertainty and the unknown. These nerves were of certainty and the very well known. On my departure, a long 6 months previous, I had a small cry for the people at home I would miss, and on my arrival back home I fought another small cry for everything else abroad I would never know.
Spending countless hours in the travel section of Chapters, and picking up guidebooks along with highlighters, I grabbed a novel set in India. After reading the first few pages I found myself yearning for ridiculous things such as the complete lack of ability to do my hair/make-up (what an invigorating feeling, simply stepping out of the shower and walking out the door), the freedom of not being able to drive yourself, or the wanted-it-at-the-time-but-don’t-now dreaded cell phone. Ya it can be convenient, but I don’t really need it. I also wonder why all our buses have the same boring paint job? Why don’t strangers smile at each other in Western society? Why are our streets almost void of people? Why do I feel a pang of irrational jealously whenever I see a plane in the sky? (which living 10 minutes from the airport, is often) I know that at times when traveling I wanted nothing more than to blend in, but really, I even miss being the centre of attention. I miss not knowing where I’m going to wake up 3 days from today. The one thing I miss most, though, is the feeling of missing home. When I was forced to be in common situations with no power, no food for extended periods besides chips and coke, no bed to sleep in and not a drop of warm water, I was so completely aware of how privileged my life is at home. I could see my life from the eyes of the less fortunate that I was often surrounded by, and when you are back home living your life, it is hard to keep that realization on the surface everyday.
In a borrowed term, I have come to realize I have ‘away-sickness.’ Away-sickness can be a dangerous thing if you have begun to settle down and have found a great job that you don’t want to leave. Thankfully, Nick and I have already purchased our tickets out for our next escape, (hint: these destinations will also satisfy our love of food!) and having thrown myself into the planning, my unbearable wanderlust is numbed with the excitement of future potential.
Being with Nick for 7 years, I am confident that I’m not terrified of commitment on a relationship level, but I can’t help but feel that in every other aspect of my life, I am unable to commit to one path, location, or lifestyle. Not knowing what will come next month is what keeps me happy everyday. Uncertainty might scare some people, but for me it represents possibility, and that’s nothing less than exciting.
To quote myself and my parting words on my last post, ‘I’ll be seeing you soon,’ our faithful blog readers, and not as a post from my comfy couch, but preferably from a terribly hard bed in a city I can’t properly pronounce. I can’t wait!