My boss is in Italy right now. A friend from college just got off the phone with me, telling me about all of the cheap flights she just bought to Scotland, and Spain. She’ll be in Europe for six weeks. “Should I go to Morocco, or Portugal next?” she asks me. “We were supposed to go to Portugal together once,” I think, though not bitterly and not with regret.
I look out my window and see a blanket of grey, and white. It’s snowing outside, big plops of snowflakes coming down from a heavy sky sideways. The tree branches are still bare and whatever green sprung to life is now covered and drooping.
Another friend lights up my phone with pictures of fields of daffodils in London and canals in Germany. He brings me back a little key chain from Amsterdam, a wooden shoe. I smile because it is more than I brought home with me even though I was there, too.
I listen knowingly while he tells tales of smoking in little cafes in Amsterdam and riding the train to Hamburg.
“You’ll love Rome, especially at night,” I tell my boss.
“Definitely go to Morocco,” I urge my friend. “The food is incredible.”
I eagerly offer advice and wish them well because I get it. The ecstatic feeling of being anywhere but here. The thrill of the journey and the planning and the unknown. Coming home with a glow of memories and photographs and new tastes still fresh on your tongue.
But I don’t want it. I don’t feel jealous, or left out. It’s been a little over two years since I’ve been abroad and I’m not even tempted to spend my lunch break looking up cheap flight airfares, even though I have been contemplating the beauty of places like Ireland and Hawaii and maybe, I don’t know.
The truth is, I’m kind of worried that I’m cured of the travel bug. Shouldn’t I be feeling more restless? Or curious? Or intrigued, or all of the things I felt before?
But I’m not.
And the thing is, it’s not exactly like my life is perfect now. The last six weeks have been high intensity in all of the good and stressful and anxiety ridden ways. Things are a little unsteady, a little uncertain in most areas of my life. The snow outside seems to be in cahoots with how I feel on the inside….like Spring should’ve arrived by now but I’m still in a bit of a winter-y funk.
All of this should be fodder for me to…want to run away. Or book a flight to…anywhere. Or at least plan a method of escape so that I can look forward to getting away while trudging through the daily grind.
But I don’t have any of those instincts.
I don’t want to run. Or feel like I need to. In fact, I’ve never wanted to stay more than I do now. In spite of the hard stuff. And the struggles and…just life.
When I read back through my travel journals, they are filled with vivid sights and sounds. I can feel the emotion of that hot, stiff afternoon sitting in an open cafe in Ghana, flies buzzing around and women selling fried plantain chips from woven baskets on their head. I can smell the crisp, clean cold of a Fall on the heels of a Summer spent in France and taste the crusty end of a baguette on my tongue with the crumbs still sticking to my lips. I remember the exhaustion and the colors and the wondering.
I read the longing between every line.
“Avignon is beautiful. Southern France is beautiful. Summer has passed and the wind blows, singing notes of Autumn. Still, I’m looking for my roots. I’m looking for consistency that’s tied to something other than waiting on buses and filling my lungs with smoke.”
And so it is. The city names change, but the longing never does. With each page, it shows up. A whisper, a shout, a cry.
I don’t really know what’s changed, to be honest. Maybe time, maybe me. Maybe I had to chase myself all around the world to finally find myself exactly where I am. And to be okay with that.
There’s still longing. There’s still some restlessness and nights when thoughts go around like a carousel. There’s still grief, and sorrow. But mostly, I don’t want to be anywhere else. Even if Spring refuses to come.
Because there are muddy paws on the kitchen floor, and it’s mine. Jazz plays in the background and upstairs a new roommate is putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls. There are cookies in the oven and it smells like melted butter and mulled wine, and Christmas. In April, no less.
And this is it. This is all I wanted for so long.
I don’t really think I’m cured of the travel bug. But maybe something else. And I’m not sure what that might be, but I think the antidote is contentment. And I’m drinking it daily.
When the time is right to travel again, I’ll know. And maybe there will be less running and more seeking. And maybe, not. Either way, it will be okay. It always is.Google+