I have this incurable condition. It’s an overwhelming, all-consuming, insatiable case of wanderlust. Last week I found myself staring at an airport departure board with such fervor that a concerned gate agent had to ask me if I was alright. The freedom of choosing my next destination by closing my eyes and spinning a globe – of leaving it all up to chance – is the beauty of full (and sometimes reckless) abandon.
It’s the desperate dream of faraway places that I don’t even know exist. I was born for leaving and I can’t stop.
I often get asked where I consider home. I mumble through the ever so awkward and slightly rehearsed preamble to explain away how and why everything I own fits into one suitcase and duffel bag, and that ten days is the longest I’ve spent in one place in the last two years. Home for me is the present. It happens to be wherever I’m located at any given point in time, whether it’s a cramped 9 bed hostel room in the heart of Rio De Janeiro or the serenity of JFK’s terminal 8 in the dead of night.
Not having a place to call home is both beautiful and exhausting. It’s late nights at a laundromat and flying with food poisoning. It’s flight delays, traffic, and painfully slow internet. It’s Skype dates, jet lag, and an embarrassing over-reliance on Tinder. It’s constantly yearning to be where I’m not.
And I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. Because it’s also friendships that transcend distance and time. It’s having a home cooked meal by a campfire in the middle of the Serengeti, nothing but an expanse of stars above and the rumble of wildlife in the distance. It’s the wistfulness of holding a book once held by Galileo.
It’s wandering through unknown cities without a map or plan. It’s waiting for a goat to cross the road in Uganda so you can safely make it alive. It’s a bartender in Zanzibar “treating” your malaria with a gin and tonic. It’s chasing waterfalls and snacking on deep fried crickets. It’s holding a stranger’s baby on a rickshaw in Bali. It’s seeing the sunrise on the other side of the world. It’s relearning how to live when you’re completely alone in a foreign country.
It’s feeling how utterly insignificant your problems are as you occupy such a tiny place on this earth.
You see, no one has ever given me a reason to stay in one place. If and when someone does, I’ll know it’s real. I’ll know that I’ll be able to happily call a place home, because sometimes, home isn’t four walls or the familiar curve of your favorite pillow. It’s wherever another soul calls you to return to day after day. Until then, my heart yearns for the unfamiliar and distant corners of this tiny planet that each and every one of us calls home.