A few years ago, I never wanted to be anything but nomadic. See as much of the world as possible, live on every continent, attain multiple citizenships, and make even a pilot’s miles dwarf in comparison to how many air miles I racked up.
Much to my own surprise, I’m not that person any more. I like having roots and a home to come back to. I like having a stable job with benefits and a core of friends that aren’t just passing relationships. I always thought this would make me boring and that excitement would pass me by as I toiled away from 9-5. Really, I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier than I am now, toiling away.
I knew it already, but this notion solidified itself after arriving back from my much talked about trip to Ireland. The trip was great, but after a week, I wanted to be home. I wanted to hang out with my friends, play with my cat, eat food that wasn’t fish and chips, drive on the right side of the road, and sleep in a bed that was my own.
Traveling can be exhausting, especially when some people (cough, cough) are excessive planners and worriers.
After two weeks, narrowly avoiding attacking the boyfriend and leaving his remains somewhere on the Dingle Peninsula, we managed to see every nook and cranny of the Republic of Ireland. We drove everywhere. Everywhere. I can say that there are few, if any, things I didn’t see. However, I did forget one of the best parts of a vacation. Relaxation.
We invested so much money into the trip and I used all my vacation days for the year, I didn’t want to leave the country wanting in any experience. Because of this, I didn’t necessarily savor each moment of the trip. I kept trying to make it as epic and memorable as possible rather than live in the moment which makes it epic and memorable. We had a lovely time through the two weeks, even with my anxious trip planning. Still, by day 7 we were ready to come home and have a staycation rather than a vacation.
When I lived abroad, I had all the time in the world to enjoy my location and explore. It was the best way to fall in love with a country and to learn about the location—culture, history, lifestyle, etc. Vacations are a little different; I try to soak up everything in one brief fell swoop as I would if I had spent one year rather than 13 days in a location. (Always with trying to find the balance between one extreme and the other.)
In these two weeks away, I reflected on how my attitudes have changed in regard to travel. I used to want to live anywhere but where I’m from. I never appreciated my origins. I remember talking with friends from other countries who always said (with funny accents), “when I travel, I like where I go, but I’m always so happy I’m from where I’m from.” Going away made them appreciate their home. I was always like, “blah, America. So boring and stars and stripey.”
It’s not that I’m more patriotic now, don’t get me started on the stupid government, but I know my home, my life, my connections, my culture, and I love it. I feel like I found my corner in the puzzle and have started to connect the proper pieces.
Maybe I got the travel bug out of my system, or maybe I’m not looking for a way to be happy anymore because I am. Perhaps my travels were a quest for an answer to my life, and maybe I found it right in my own backyard.
It’s not that I don’t want to travel anymore, I still want to see so much more and learn to savor what I can within my limited time off of my 9-5. But I like having my home base. I like having a life on its own, without need for a passport.
Plus, I really hate flying.
“…Going to another country doesn’t make any difference. I’ve tried all that. You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another. There’s nothing to that.” – The Sun Also Rises