Throwing clothes in a suitcase and jet setting across the blue skies has always appealed to me. It seems only natural then that as I witness the phenomenon of ‘wanderlust’ sweeping over the rest of my peers, I should be rather pleased. That somehow I should feel rather accomplished for having jumped on that train long before it became chic. Yet, looking back over the first few chapters of my travels to where I am now, I realized that my restless feet did not come without the price of my heart.
Traveling is not always glamorous; it can be grueling and intensive. The elements are not mere components of your destination but rather become the hidden pawns of your map. Living abroad is an even further challenge.
There are days when I am abroad that I do not utter a word to anyone. This is not for lack of desire to chat with another being but due to my inability to communicate with those around me. These days make me realize just how alone one can be even amidst a crowded street.
Cool evenings when I have broken down and shed my tears upon a cobble-stoned street under the dimming sky and shallow glow of a street lamp; all this for merely spending six hours in a foreigners’ clinic feeling horrible and rather alone. Knowing that when I am to arrive at my version of home, there will be only myself to take care of an ailing and horribly depressed me.
There are points in my journey where I know that I cannot be the daughter that my mother wishes I could be: the one that can meet for a spot of coffee or a quick retail therapy session on a long day. Sunday brunches only exist when one person has stayed up late for coffee at a diner while the other person places a call home during an early lunch at their flat before afternoon class. Not to mention that Christmas cards will arrive for Valentine’s Day.
Friends become distant as their lives continue onwards as your adventures move you forward. You meet new people but nothing replaces the late nights of wine, Cheetos, laughing, and ranting. You wish them well and hope that you won’t be forgotten by the time their “big moments” happen: that where ever you are, their invitations and announcements will make it to your foreign doorstep.
Most of all, your beloved relationships will be pitted against your desire to roam. Commitment, no matter how lovingly tended, will be no match for your wandering soul. Your basic humanistic craving for a sense of stability and support will soon be the very chains that hold you in place. Despite your best attempts to have the best of both, sooner than later you will have to choose. What you are left with is two possibilities: of being in a mostly perfect relationship that forces you to plant your roots way too soon or cutting all ties and leaving, with the known risk of never finding another near perfect relationship. The former would be the stifling of the best part of you, the latter a human void.
In my travels and life abroad, I have found that there are days where my heart is heavier than the bags I carry. My choices have led to my own heartbreak, my heart betrayed by my own doing.
But then there are those other days: the ones that lead to new discoveries and a skyline of abyss, glowing brightly against the hard violet. Moments in my life that have pieced together all the weathered chips off my heart, putting them together in a way that somehow surpasses the original. Times in my wandering where the scars from the past sufferings are wrapped lovingly in an embrace around my wounds in the form of the soft billow of a colorful Bangladeshi scarf, giving a flicker of hope with each whispering wind. Days when a small patch of green coming through a crumbling temple can make me smile.
No matter how many times or in what manners traveling has broken my heart, I come to a special point, a glorious instance, where travel rebuilds and strengths my mind, body, and soul in ways that nothing else ever can.