I love to travel. It is enlightening and enlivening. When you go to a new place, it can be challenging and even a little scary in the ‘horror movie’ kind of way. It seems dangerous and risky but you’re pretty sure you’re going to survive it and come out just fine on the other side. Travel can broaden your perspective and enrich your understanding of life.
I love to travel but, after a while, I love to come home again. The sense of familiarity makes it easy to just be yourself; you don’t have to be cautious or concerned about the impression you’ll make. You can talk politics freely without risking starting a riot, an international incident or a term in a Turkish prison.
Coming home is also eye-opening. Even in ten days, a lot can change. The leaves fall from the trees; your balcony garden has dwindled to the last few cold-hardy plants. There is even a new layer of dust on all your things. And of course there is the mail to open – yes, I still get relevant things via Canada Post – and the contents of the fridge to explore (cautiously).
On the first day back, we all say the same thing – ‘do you realize that just 24 hours ago, we were walking on a beach in Cuba or listening to the call to prayer in Istanbul. After a week, it all begins to blur – the best parts standing out as shining moments and the worst acquiring the patina of wild adventure. A trip is never better than it is in memory.
Still, if you do it right, remain open to new ideas and tastes and concepts of beauty and cultural value, a trip, whether for pleasure, for business or for learning, can be an almost endless string of singular moments, that, while they are happening, have a sense of eternity. A journey, I suspect, is the only kind of heaven that would be worth dying for.
Back home, the demands of routine return. There are bills to pay – including those impulse purchases we often make on our last day abroad, desperate perhaps to extend out stay just that much longer, by having something special to unpack. Work soon beckons, whether it’s the day job or a publishing business that demands your attention or that story that needs to be finished or marketed. You chide yourself a little for not getting more done while travelling but you know in your heart that you don’t regret your preoccupation with people and place one little bit.
Still, it is great to finally lay your head on your own pillow and let the familiar sounds of your own home and your own city drift you off to sleep. In a month, you’ll say, that was such a great trip. Remember when… Or you will say as you look at a favorite souvenir or photo, oh, that was such a perfect day…
In three months, you’ll say: darn, we never have any fun. And start planning your next trip and your next homecoming.
And that’s ten minutes.