It’s an exciting life, being a traveller. Every day you witness new things, you meet interesting people, you discover new ways of living and you eat food you never knew existed. You find yourself inspired by things you never thought you’d care about, and a new version of you is moulded with every new experience. If there’s one way to rediscover the magic in life, it’s travelling.
But there’s a dark side to travelling, too. A lot of the time, you are alone. You have no friends, you have no family. You may be sitting in an empty hotel room in a faraway town, or eating breakfast alone in a small, crowded teahouse. Sometimes, you just lie in bed and stare at the ceiling, starving painfully, but lacking the energy to wander the streets for a decent place to eat. It’s times like these when you long for company. The sound of a familiar voice. The comfort of a familiar face.
And then when you finally meet someone, it’s never long before you have to part ways. Sometimes, it’s just the guy in the bunk above you. Maybe you ate lunch together, or shared a few beers. A few days later you shake hands and say you’ll keep in touch, but of course, you never do. Other times, you meet a new best friend. It’s like you’ve found a long lost brother from Spain or Sweden. Those friendships always brew crazy memories, as if you’ve been friends since childhood. But it only lasts a week. Eventually, it’s time for them to pack up and move on too. Slowly, it weathers you. One can only handle so many goodbyes.
Then when you least expect it, you’ll fall in love. You won’t even know what hit you. But the road is not kind to love. Those goodbyes are the painful ones. They eat away at you. They’re the ones you’ll still think about, many years from now.
Somewhere along the way, you’ll need to come home. That is hard to describe. At first it’s as if nothing has changed. That old coffee shop with chipped red and white paint is still standing on the corner, and your old friends still slam tequilas at the bar every Friday night. But soon you realise, your old life has passed you by. People are married, they have children, they have houses and a DVD collection. They’ve built a life for themselves, and you weren’t there to be a part of it. Home has changed, but more subtly and slowly than you expected. Suddenly, it’s like you’re a stranger in your own town.
With this realisation, it doesn’t take long for the fragile comfort of home to wear off. Sometimes it’s just a couple of days. You find yourself itching to explore again. Maybe you’ll go to Togo this time. Or Venezuela.
No idea. Just because.
Wanderlust is like a drug. It consumes you. Once the road has a hold of you it never lets you go. You are drawn to it, you crave it. It’s an addiction. The conventional life becomes nothing but an afterthought. You might have worked hard for it once, but you threw it away, and maybe you’ll regret that one day. Or, maybe you won’t. But you didn’t really have a choice anyway. A roving foot is too hard to stop.
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” – Leonardo da Vinci