I have done quite a bit of traveling in my life. Nowhere near as much as I wish I did, but still quite a bit. In fact, I’m writing this from an airplane making its way from San Francisco to Minneapolis. Just last weekend, I was vacationing in Florida and next weekend, I’ll be in Chicago. A Glamorous life full of travel? You’d think. But really, I just had a lot of vacation time I had to burn through before the upcoming end-of-year.
With all the traveling that I do, there’s always one thing that I look forward to least: going home. I am always happy to be home. However, what I am not a fan of, is the way I feel when I leave. I bet you thought I’d say the worst part of traveling was the long security lines, all of the flying, etc., etc., didn’t you?
No, the worst part about traveling is the little bit of emptiness I feel inside when I leave. The best part is being able to see all of these new and wonderful places, but it comes hand in hand with that emptiness. The only sensible solution to filling that emptiness is to travel more; it’s an addiction. You see, when you find someplace you love, you leave a little piece of your heart there. With that comes the “what ifs.” What if I stayed here? What if I made this place a home?
Traveling is falling in love over and over again with things you can never have. You can never have the beach. You can never have the Golden Gate Bridge. You can never have the towering skyscrapers lining the horizon in New York City. Choosing one thing is going without another. The pieces of your heart are scattered in each of these places and you’ll never feel whole again.
With each piece of your heart you leave behind, you learn something new. In Scotland, I learned what I wanted out of life. In London, I learned how to be spontaneous. In Denver, I learned that you can’t rely on anyone but yourself. In Toronto, I learned that the best way to find something you weren’t looking for is to get lost. On a flight from Florida, I learned that you can’t make people be a part of your life if they don’t want to be. The list goes on and on. I am filled with life lessons and realizations, yet I’m still left with the emptiness of loving these new places and not being able to have them all at the same time.
I grow attached to these cities. I make myself at home and I don’t want to leave. I learn to love the people, the culture, the scenery and I don’t like to think about my life without them. My heart yearns for the city I’m leaving before I’ve even left it.
I think about these places all the time. I still have dreams about riding the buses in Edinburgh. When I close my eyes, I can still see the hustle and bustle of Times Square. I can still smell the eucalyptus trees from the Bay Area. I can still hear the video game-like beeping of the traffic lights in Dublin. I’ll catch myself smiling when little things remind me of a memory I made while traveling.
Though loving these places is the worst part about traveling, it’s also the best part of traveling. I’m blessed and incredibly thankful that I get to see so many beautiful corners of the world. I’d take the troubles of loving too many places over that of not having enough places to love any day.