Back when I was a teenager, that quote was what I was living for. I was striving to see the world, to travel, to live in different places, to meet new people, to be wild, free, and independent of culture and people. I wanted to live on my own terms.
Years later, It partially happened, I took that leap of faith, I visited numerous places over the world, I tried every insane challenge, I ate every kind of an odd traditional dish, I met loads of people, seen breathtaking landscapes, densely learned about other cultures. That sure included challenging times from finding jobs, making real friends, staying safe, learning social norms, misreading people you think you can trust — but these are all parts you get through. All of these lows are erased by the complete highs you experience. The goodbyes are difficult but you know they are coming, especially when you take the final step of purchasing your plane ticket to the next destination.
Sadly, that’s not the whole story. There is an unspoken dark side of traveling that people usually avert mentioning in order to assure their loved ones that they are having the time of their lives. You see, there are two types of Travel. The one that the quote maintains, where you hop from one exciting destination to another, spending several days/weeks, talking to random people, seeing what it is to be seen in that place then leave with that tingling buzz and passion impatiently waiting and hoping for an even more alluring destination.
Then there is that other one, where you actually spend months/years in each destination before moving on to the next. It usually starts off quite well, one can still recall getting on that plane, the view from above, and the stirring excitement to be in that new place, getting lost as of the absence of a map or phone, settling down and getting to know people. But then it gets to be like a loop, a cycle, a reoccurring Deja Vu.
You make good friends, get comfortable, stabilize your finances, and build your own little community, live the good life. Then all of a sudden, farewell parties, plane ticket, and it all begins again.
One would think that it takes more than three months in a foreign city for it to become a home. Little did I know….
Consequently, with a line up of cities that one can call home, It gets quite confusing that it would take one a bit of introspection just to give an answer to that seemingly simple question: Where are you from? This is where it usually hits you, Is it the city cited in your passport? The one you are living in now? The one you spent the most of your adult life? Or is it the one you enjoyed the most? The one you made friends at the most? Maybe the one which feels like a home to you? It turns out, not that simple after all.
When you keep traveling, you start fresh every time, you fantasize, woolgather and perfect a whole new person based on your previous experience. With time, you start getting puzzled with your identity, your roots, and your true self.
You start calling every place by its name rather by what it means to you. You learn about yourself yet get lost in your own world. You adapt anywhere in no time yet avoid getting attached to places or people. You make friends with no hassle, yet live like a lone wolf. You master several languages, yet even in your thoughts you mix them up. You promise yourself to settle down yet you always miss the fear of being immersed into the unknown. You wait till you are quite comfortable, then you start looking for another destination to assuage the need for the stress of being on your own.
When you keep traveling, you will become your own home, and you will never cease to stop.