World

7.12.2013

One Way Ticket: An American Holiday

I once heard that traveling meant being alive. I think this phrase holds true because traveling changes a person in a way that little else in the world can. Traveling isn’t seasonally trendy. It is timelessly exotic, opening our minds and widening our perspectives. Travel affords us the invaluable lesson of selflessness, to have concerns for issues much larger than ourselves. It favors the future as we share acquired knowledge from our constant wanderings with humanity, telling our stories to the country and home we’ve left behind.

After all is said and done, when our hearts can’t possibly yearn to feel the warmth of our family around our tired bodies any longer, we (as travelers) are eager to utilize our findings, in hopes of making the world a smaller, more meaningful, place for everyone. We search for a way to repay our lifetime of favors to the universe for humbling us. This is exactly what empowers me, ten months after first boarding a plane with a one-way ticket to Israel, as I return home for an American holiday. After ten months of exploring our inexhaustible world, I return home.

I pull out my backpack from the dark corner of my closet in Melbourne, a city of hidden treasures and where I stopped along the road for four months. It’s as if I am reunited with an old, beautiful friend. He is more rugged than when we first met, but with a damn lot more character. I laugh at the memory of my former self, when it was necessary to gather momentum to strap myself in, and I smile gleefully because the weight upon my shoulders no longer bothers me like it used to. It feels foreign, yet wonderfully familiar. I am elated that I fill it with things that feel like nothing more than just things. They are things I once wanted because I thought I needed them. Now, I know all I need is the intangible: words, stories and conversations. This backpack is suddenly much more profound than a piece of luggage. It is an emblem of my journey.

I prepare for my homecoming and all of my emotions of searching for life’s purpose and feeling lost are illuminated. Waves of travel-memories fill my vision and I’m effortlessly blinded to my supposed excitement for home. I don’t even know what the word home means anymore because I’m enchanted by the euphoria of nomadic tendencies. My home has been the open road throughout seven countries. Home is a place of safety and a roof over my head–some roofs more comforting than others, some more lonely than inviting. My home was innumerable places with beautiful faces to whom I said, "I’ll see you again," rather than, "Goodbye."  With this as a notion of home comes a lessened sense of the familiar. The only thing constant is a lack of balance. As wanderers, the typical anchors of life–a career, strong friendships, neighbors or an address–are beyond grasp. Rather, a deeply-rooted love of experiencing new places is a driving factor to see more and more of the planet and to let our imaginations become reality in hopeful wanderlust. We must seek comfort in our own skin, for there is no other option. We search for like-minded wanderers to rejuvenate our sense of purpose when our own skin doesn’t seem tough enough to survive yet another day.

But what we often fail to acknowledge is places that feel mundane or normal from years of walking through the same front door is fascinating to someone else. Our homes, whatever or wherever they may be, spark another person’s daydream. These beds, tents, brightly colored beach fronts, run-down shacks and hammock-decorated bungalows, that are someone’s immediate reality, give life to my greatest feat. The world and its people will always keep going even when we decide it’s time to stop moving.

From this one-way ticket lifestyle, I feel so far from being blinded by my fortunes, yet I’m still confused and eager to hound in upon my traveling purpose. Do people want to hear my story? Is there common ground for conversation, or are my experiences too foreign for an outsider to understand? Will I be able to say goodbye again, after this American holiday, and board my plane back to Australia on another one-way ticket? How can I give back to the people of the world who have given me so much? But more importantly, have I done my job to inspire? I don’t have answers to these questions just yet.

But there is one thing I know for certain: as I sit here now and finish this story, sitting at the table from my childhood with the California sun beating down on my back, I have never felt so blissfully alive under this beautiful roof of warmth and familiarity.

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