When You Love Places Over People

Suhyeon Choi

My ability to love places is far greater than my ability to love people. This is something I learned the hard way, the way that tugged on the hearts of a few and shred them to pieces.

Travel might rough you up but it always promises to love you afterwards. It promises life changing experiences and intimate conversations with strangers. It promises you contentment as you sit in a foreign coffee shop totally ecstatic that you finally found a decent cup of coffee. It promises you to take away your distraction as all of your friends on the other side of the world will be sleeping most of your day time on the other side of the world.

These experiences are ones I have yet to find at home in the states. As I sit here reflecting on my most recent trip to India, my heart aches to be back in that entirely diverse land with those entirely different people and the entirely different language that sounds beautiful as it buzzes from one ear to another.

I ache for the contentment on the little things that on the road can seem like giant triumphs. India is amazing, but for awhile it seemed I would have to switch my daily coffee buzz for a masala chai. The day I found myself in a coffee shop with an amazing latte was an afternoon I sat in appreciation over a small cup of happiness and comfort.

Being totally raw and honest, I don’t feel that appreciation or contentment here. I have not found that form of happiness in a person. On the contrary, loving people is quite hard. There are guaranteed ups and downs and when it comes down to it, who the hell would love the girl with the free spirit well enough to run alongside her instead of anchoring her down to a stagnant, dry life.

The intimate conversations that seemingly come so easily while on the road… they make you appreciate the quiet that comes with solo travel solely for the absolute bliss that comes from the natural flow of conversation with souls you meet on the road. Here, you come and you go. But you don’t really make more than very limited small talk with strangers. The amazing natural chemistry that can appear on the road is absolutely jaw dropping.

Imagine getting lost in rural India after spending the day in the sun. Feeling exhausted and returning to your thin mattress lined with questionable sheets and a bout of tonsillitis. I was ready to go home after this day. Travel roughs you up sometimes. This is an extremely mild example. But then, a few days later, I met some amazing people, shared some amazing conversations, and got back to a place I enjoyed to be. That is the other thing with travel, it is totally okay to change your mind. I left one part of India early because I was worn out, roughed up, and returned to an area I am still absolutely in love with. Because of heading back early, I met cool people and had some good experiences along with some time to reflect.

The point is, travel is easy compared to people. You give, it gives back. You love it, it gives you love back. It might rough you up, but it always shows you the brighter side afterwards. It is always worth it. Maybe this is why for some of us, it is easy to commit to travel. It is easy to love places wholeheartedly and easy to fall in love with strangers. We give travel our raw roughed up selves. We don’t hold back. If you aren’t loving every second, you can change something about the experience or the trip. Want to go home early? That isn’t a failure, it is a damn triumph that you came this far, you learned, you saw, you loved, and you returned changed–even if it is early. We don’t have to be perfectly done up for that love. It catches us off guard when we need it most. It is easy and beautiful and there are no questions about it. TC mark

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