Accepting the road as your home is a hard thing to do.
Feeling like a transient visitor is a taxing practice, especially if don’t give yourself enough time to catch a plane.
There is nothing wrong with a 20-hour trip to Paris to see Jamie Cullum and find ways to keep yourself occupied until daylight. It’s not OK to check-in for your plane online and give yourself eight minutes to run from a train to your airplane. That’s when thoughts of losing hundreds of dollars and tension from traveling mates start flowing into your consciousness, and people start to fall into who they really are.
When you can only control very small parts of your future, how do you react? This is the transient state of a physical and psychological traveler. These moments are the ultimate discomfort and most telling episodes. Some people take the reigns in social scene complexes, wade their way into comfortable terms, detach themselves from emotion, or grab onto any outside vulnerability they can to suppress their own panic.
In college, you deal with this in the dorm. It’s in the wing of your building, sticking to the bottom of plastic cups, and building in the pores of your shower tiles. We’ve all got places to hide our vulnerabilities, until we wear them out and the only place left is in ourselves.
I consider myself a good – no, honest – traveler. I’m not typically American by European standards, not picky about food, make quiet efforts to learn the language, don’t freak out when things aren’t going to plan and don’t live strictly by the take-a-picture-of-a-landmark code. The best thing a transient can do is realize the reach of their context and try to embrace anything else. There’s no reason to be definable.
Part of being an honest traveler is accepting that I rarely like to travel. I’m a homebody. Given three or four days of pounding the pavement in less than desired hostels that don’t rent out towels (try washing your hair with bar soap and drying it with tissue paper), people start walking at a slower pace. Your bones feel sore. All you want to do is sit down for hours. This is when I want to go home. Not back to my high school hometown, or Philadelphia, but London.
I’ve already been to battle with London, and accepted this place and idea as my home. That’s all we’re looking for – an idea.
Chris Zakorchemny can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.