On Travel and Temper Tantrums
Unfortunately, I am not naturally suited to long term travel. I enjoy staying in one place, I am scared of walking into a new spot on my own, and I love routine (I have eaten the same breakfast almost every day for the past five years). As Mr. Plinkett says, “I don’t like things that are different.”*
Fortunately, I have an amazing partner. Dmitry and I have been together almost 10 years (!), which means that he was around to wipe my tears and force me off the couch when I left California for Egypt in June of 2005,** shortly after graduating Berkeley. At that time, I had never lived abroad, had never traveled alone, and had lived almost my whole life in California. I had been fine in the weeks leading up to departure – I am good with the reading and planning bits of travel – but on the morning when I was supposed to actually embark on my new grown-up adventure, I lay on the couch in my bathrobe and refused to leave.
Dmitry, the saint that he is, got me to the airport in time to catch my flight. And it all worked out – moving to Egypt was a wonderful experience (though much better once Dmitry joined me two months later). Being there made me learn how to be myself in a way that I had never been before, and many of my closest friends now are ones that I met in Cairo (or ones that I met through the people I met in Cairo). Also, I learned Arabic.
Remembering the Cairo episode, I was nervous as we prepared for this big adventure. I kept bracing for the moment that I would break down, lose my composure, and refuse to go. But I didn’t. We moved out of our apartment, traveled all over the US in our car, spent a month riding bikes around Thailand, and everything was pretty much ok.
Until today. It’s funny though, because nothing particularly dramatic happened: we realized that we needed to change our tickets to India in order to avoid overstaying our Sri Lankan visas, there was trouble getting paperwork done at the Indian visa office, and people were generally loud and pushy. But all of that is just a part of travel, and a part that I am usually more than able to deal with. But all of a sudden, I just didn’t want to do this anymore. Standing on the street corner and fighting back tears, I didn’t want to be here. The city felt loud and polluted and dirty and crowded and I didn’t want to deal with the hassle. I just wanted to go home. But, like when I left for Cairo, I don’t really know where home is anymore. So I guess I’ll have to keep traveling.***
* If you haven’t watched Mr. Plinkett, you really should. His Star Trek reviews are amazing (especially for a TNG fan), but I think Cop Dog may be his finest work.
** This is pretty hilarious to read 10 years later. Please don’t judge me too much.
*** After a few hours sitting in a shady courtyard with a glass of white wine, I am fully recovered and ready to get back on the road. We are off to Batticaloa tomorrow – the Eastern coast awaits.