I am grateful to whoever is in charge of such matters that in my life I have been permitted to travel fairly extensively. And having just returned from an amazing sojourn in the outer world I am feeling the gratitude and also the itch to go again. Even more than that, I find that when I reach the end of a particular journey, I just want to keep on going, and only other commitments or having used up whatever funds I had available keep me from following the quest.
Yep, once I am out in the world I want more and more.
I recall a friend telling me how he was once standing on the seafront in Bombay/Mumbai (tomayto-tomahto) around the time he was slated to head for home.
“All I could think was that Africa is just across the water there, and after that there’s South America and I wanted it all.”
I’m like that.
When we were recently in Colombia all I could think was that the continent also contains Brazil, and Argentina, and Chile, and Ecuador and so on and I wanted to see them all.
Once I’m away I never suffer from homesickness and all I miss is my dog. Indeed, while I am always gratified to get home safely, one night in my own bed pretty much does it for me. Then I make the mistake of looking at the local newspapers and immediately realizing the same old shit is still going on and I don’t want to be part of it.
Self-indulgent? Of course. Life is short so carpe them old diems as long as your health and financial resources will permit.
So I read about local councils in pissing matches with people I don’t care about over zoning or some such crud and think that a little over a week ago I was cruising on a river full of crocodiles and exactly a week ago I was sitting in a horsedrawn carriage and trotting along the cobbled streets of a city that was already 300 years old when the first European folks actually set foot in my realm. It’s a bit disenchanting but I do still have the reserve glow of it having been good.
As I say, I don’t get homesick or suffer from detachment angst, but I do have pre-travel distress. Sort of like homesickness in reverse.
It starts about a week before I’m heading out anywhere. Suddenly my home feels like the most important and safest place on earth and I become almost pathologically loath to leave it. And as the day draws nigh I become increasingly “I don’t wanna go. I want to stay here where it’s safe and secure and there are no evil brigands wanting to do me in.”
I thought I was weird about that manifestation of fear and then I read a comment by travel-writer extraordinaire Paul Theroux who recounted that he suffers from huge pre-travel anxiety before he embarks on one of his extensive trips. He become obsessively afraid of death and is horrified that he might die “out there” without ever seeing his home again.
My consolation comes from a certain self-knowledge based on experience. It has happened before and I know it will happen every time in the future. But, once I am “in process” then it all dissipates. I only need to pull out of the driveway and head to the airport and I am instantly pumped. And I also make a point of never turning around and looking back at the home I’ve just left. Personal superstition tells me that to do so is to invite misfortune.
So, now I sing a song to the open road for I want to go again.