Those Who Wander

“I’m in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met.”

I’ve always thought it’s funny, and maybe a little strange, how easily I fall in love with places. My favorite feeling in the entire world is getting off a plane, and having no earthly idea what I’m doing. There’s a dissonance there, incongruities between what I know and what I think I know. I’m slightly off-balance, but instead if being frightening, it’s exhilarating.

Since I can remember, I’ve adored adventures. I get bored with sameness and routine—I’m constantly curious about the new, the exciting, the difficult. (One of the the reasons I’m such a bookworm.) This is why I chose majors where I can be creative, and a career where there’s always a different challenge. But most of all, this is why I have a severe case of wanderlust.

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”

– Susan Sontag

See, I can always tell when I meet someone else who adores travel. Start asking about the places they’ve been, and their eyes light up. Sometimes, they can’t even find the words to describe it, because travel changes people. They too want to see new things, even if it’s just through stories.

But I’ve noticed a difference— There are travelers, and there are tourists.

There are some people who are perfectly capable going to incredible places and coming away completely unaffected, with maybe a, “Yeah it was fun I guess.” Or, the people who are content to stay within their little bubble of fellow Americans, missing out on the experience of connecting with people who are nothing like them. You excitedly ask about their travels, only to receive blank, somewhat confused looks. ((aka “you might just be insane but I’m socially obligated to not tell you that”)) They’re the ones that missed it– the best part of adventures.

The best part of adventures is listening to a little girl carry on an entire conversation with you in a language you can’t understand. It’s driving by fields of sunflowers that stretch as far as you can see and wondering whether maybe you’re at home here after all. It’s seeing the sky in the Southern Hemisphere and realizing that even the stars are different, but just as magical. It’s witnessing pain and suffering intertwined with joy and dancing. It’s climbing waterfalls, swimming in two oceans at once, trying strange inedible foods. It’s realizing a soccer ball might just be the fastest way to friendship with little kids who may not understand your words, but understand sports.

The world really is incredibly, messily beautiful when you take the time to look.

I am not, by any means, well traveled– there are so many places I still have to go. But I have been lucky enough to travel just a little, and it’s one of the things that has shaped my life and who I am. My next adventures will be Amsterdam and Paris (!!!!!), so I’ll be using that as an excuse to reminisce, remember and blog about some of my favorite places over the next few weeks.

After all, falling in love is something to remember.