I Don't Need to Leave (An Ode to My Days of Frequent Travel)

Monday, August 29, 2016

It used to be that I loved nothing more than to travel. When I lived in New Hampshire & New Jersey, especially, I traveled a lot. All my friends lived elsewhere, & traveling was the only way to get to them so, with a job that allowed me the freedom to work from the road, I spent much of my time away from home - visiting friends across the country, going home to Ohio, & traveling to place like NYC, DC, & Israel for work. I once catalogued all the flights I took in a year & found that there wasn't a single month that didn't see me flying someplace or another.

It's August, though, & just last weekend, I took only my second flight of the year.

Wait, what? How can that be?

Don't get me wrong, I still love to travel. I've gone out of town a few time this year, but for the most part, for now, it seems, my traveling days are behind me. I don't rack up the frequent flier miles anymore because I haven't been a frequent flier for quite some time now. Before this one, my last flight was for a wedding in South Carolina in April - & before that, I last flew in September of 2015, nearly an entire year ago, when I went to the beach with my mom.

So what the hell has happened to me? What happened to the cosmopolitan city-hopper I was once so proud to be?

The most telling change of all is that I finally moved to a place that feels like home, a place where I have a happy life & very little desire to escape it. I want to travel - I always want to travel, & there's so much of the world left to see - but if I can't afford to get out of town or don't have the times do it, well... I'm don't mind being at home, either. Not at all. In fact, I love it here.

I realize now that, as proud as I was of all my travels, I was also trying to compensate for something - for feeling like I didn't belong anywhere, for feeling perpetually displaced, for never quite being at home. I traveled to feel, to love, to relieve a pain that I wasn't willing to admit, aloud or to myself, was crushing me.

I'm not saying everyone who travels is trying to make up for some lack of loss in their life. Not at all. In fact, I'd love to travel a little more often - I do miss it - & like I said, there are still approximately a billion places I want to explore. But for me, at least, at that time, all that travel was the plug meant to fill a void, to stop me from drowning in my displacement. Travel kept my mind busy. Travel kept me from admitting to myself that I didn't like being home - that I didn't even know where home was.

Now, I like coming home just as much as I like the leaving. I want to see new places, to be with my people, to explore, to adventure. But at the end of the day, I want to board a flight back to Cleveland & pet my cat & settle into my bed & wake up in my neighborhood with my life - here, not anywhere else.

And so, I may not have as many miles as I once had. I can no longer call myself an avid traveler, because these days, I'm an avid stayer-at-home. But the whole point, really, the beauty of that, is that it's OK - that home is finally a place I like being so much that I no longer feel an overwhelming desire to leave, to be someplace else, to distract myself.

I will always love to travel. But at the end of the day, when my suitcase is stowed under the bed & the pages of my passport are curled with age & lack of use, home is where my heart is. I want to see the world - but I sure do love my little corner of it.

(P.S.: Perhaps ironically, within minutes of posting this, I booked a huge trip this fall. More on that later!)

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