Sunday, 16 March 2014

secret: when you finally stop, or, some broad generalisations of a traveller

there's that point you get to in life as a person who likes to travel about the place, having adventures, when you want to keep moving, but you also want to stay still.

there's the yearning for the new and unknown places, for the rush of foreign smells and noises and coins. that sort of travel-crack (by this i mean, the addictive rush of traveling) that keeps you moving, almost forgetful of the experiences before you've had them.

everything is unknown and nothing is certain and it's the most freeing thing, probably even more so for those who always loved to plan, like me. it's a revelation, especially the bits that you hate, or the traps you fall into, representing Australia in some unknowing way, those parts you end up loving.

it's freeing, to know that whoever you choose to be each morning is no less you than that other person you left behind either yesterday, or last country, or back in Australia so long ago. either way, a lifetime and an age have passed, and you're here and now seeing everything, loving it or hating on it.

and then.

it's that little voice that misses knowing which kitchen cupboard has the mugs in it. strangely, it's missing Australian dairy products. it's your parents, either bemused at your vagrancy or travelers themselves, who want to know where and how you are in a suffocating way (somewhat and sometimes) that you've caught yourself craving at least once.

it's coming home with a new lover, to show them off to your family and your hometown in a way that reveals unflinchingly that it either will not last, or it's solid gold. it's the broken heart you drag in the back door of home, too weary, too broken. or it's the trudging through visa applications and proof that you really do love each other, sometimes put upon you much too soon.

when you finally stop, you haven't really stopped at all. if you're lucky, you'll have travel mates who become lifelong friends to visit and be visited by. if you're really lucky, perhaps they'll stop to rest more than just a little while on your back door step, drinking beer and balancing out wishes for the future with the golden remember whens.

when you finally stop, you'll be searching for a place steady enough to plant your feet. you'll know it because you'll catch yourself smiling at that final crest in the road before you hit the home valley, smiling in recognition at that feeling, that undeniable warmth in your heart.

you do feel the warmth elsewhere - the top of a mountain on a bluebird day, or apres-ski, tired and happy with shredding buddies (why is it that places of great height inspire this warm glow?). i don't for a minute suggest that you can't belong somewhere while traveling, but my point remains:

when you finally stop, you know something. even if you don't have it mapped out or pinned down exactly, it's yours to know.

when you finally stop, you give thanks for all the other lovely bits. you want more, you want feet on and in the earth, like roots.

you shake your head in disbelief at the simple truth of it. you followed your heart around the world this whole time, giddy, and when you finally stop, there it is, and there you are.

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