So folks, why travel? I have a reason.
My relationship to travel began before I could mutter my first words. I was born in Cannes, France to a Brazilian mother and an American father, whom at the time were spending the year there. I was on my first airplane when I was merely a few months old (sorry to those passengers whom I kept up wailing all flight), destination, the U.S, where we made our home.
Nine years after that flight, one ordinary day after school, my brothers and I got some unordinary news. Our same parents informed us, quite matter of factly, “we are moving to Spain in two weeks”
“Umm, excuse me?”
We had heard correctly.
“But why?!?! None of our friends are going! I don’t know any Spanish! For that matter, I don’t know anything about Spain! How could you take us away from our home!?!? We love life here!!
Despite incessant objections, desperate crying, and piercing screams, that is exactly what we did. Two weeks later we arrived to our new temporary home in El Escorial, Spain, located slightly outside of Madrid.
Two years later, my parents informed us we are moving back to the United States….they received a familiar reply.
“But why?!?! How could you take us away from here, just when we finally felt like we knew the place!? What about our friends here?!? None of them will be coming to the U.S!! We happen to love chorizo, jamón ibérico, and soccer. We love life here!!
But again, that is exactly what we did. We were back to the States a few days later, gloomy and heavy hearted, the way we had been on the way over.
Upon arriving back, back to the same house where we had spent the majority of our youth, back to the same rooms, the same smells, same old dusty paintings hanging in the dining room, crawling into the same squeaky beds we had countless times before, seeing the same neighbors in their gardens, the same dogs patrolling the streets, something I did not expect happened. My inner being burst with happiness, the kind that reverberates within you, the kind that grabs your soul ferociously, brings tears to your eyes (I mean I have dust in them!!). And although that feeling itself doesn’t last, it made and unforgettable impression on me. It also introduced me to something that on the surface wasn’t all that obvious.
My trip, as much as it was for me about the time I had spent away formulating a new me, learning a new culture, learning a different language, trying new foods, meeting new people, and numerous other character building experiences, it also brought me closer to my home. It made me acknowledge on a deeper level how special it was to me, how uniquely mine it was. And it was, it was MY home! my true home, and damn-it, I love you!
During day to day drudgery this feeling or thought can be very elusive. Patterns tire, habits tire, and hey, I’m not the only one here, seeing the same faces day in and day out, that gets tiring too.
Traveling takes the drudgery away, along with any disdain that may or may not be slowly creeping into your mind by the repetition of your lives.
Traveling makes, or at least made me, love and miss my home, along with everything in it, with much more intensity than I would have otherwise. Simple as that.
Since that revelation, I have made sure to keep traveling as an integral part of my life. And just to be sure there is no misinterpreting, it does not have to be a two year trip to be able to feel this feeling. Just these past two years I have visited Spain, Greece, Turkey, Italy, Germany, India, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Japan, I drove across the United States (Boston to Los Angeles), and now I’m in Brazil. I have made a life’s worth of memories during those trips, but the feeling, that to me, cannot be understated or underrated is that feeling I get as I drive up and pull into the driveway I call home. That’s when my hearts beats the fastest and the butterflies feel the strongest. That’s when excitement cascades through my veins uncontrolled, and my mind leaps in ecstasy.
“I just was hiking in the rainforests of Laos, petting a tiger! Me! I really did that! That was amazing! BUT…now I am home, and that is exactly where I want to be, where I need to be… home.
I am home at last! I am home at last! thank god almighty I am home at last!!”
So, my advice to you, to those who have spent the last six months, one year, two years, your whole life, in one town, or one place, for your sake, for the sake of the relationship you have to that place… step out, at least for a second, look around, then come back. It will still be there, and your love for it will only be refreshed, reinvigorated, amplified. It’s like seeing a close friend or lover you haven’t seen in years, that pure happiness will almost drown you.
The reason I travel: To become more cultured, to connect to different people, to form bonds that I could not have otherwise, to feel the adrenaline of being somewhere new, to try exotic foods, get dizzy off a new alcoholic spirit, all of that….but most importantly to step away from the place I love, so I can miss it, I can crave it, I can rebirth the love I have for it.