The Contagious Bug That Changes Lives

Do you ever feel a sense of restlessness, a strong desire to be somewhere different?

Do you ever feel energized by beautiful new customs? A novel way of greeting, new ways to socialize, different foods and rituals?

Then you may have caught it too.

The Travel Bug

It was in me just like it was in my mother, the travel bug: that longing to get to know a new place. Its culture and social norms. What insiders do and don’t do.

Once there, I wanted to find the best of what my latest place of residence had to offer. I wanted to get to know its people, its cuisine, its history and how it carried over into the present.

Not having a trust fund to finance my travels, I had to find employment in a foreign job market. Luckily, the language of the places I moved to was not foreign to me; which made many things easier.

Is There No Turning Back?

Like chapters in a book, chapters in our lives come to an end and open new ones. We can go back and re-read previous sections, but it will be an evolved ‘me’ re-reading. A ‘me’ that has grown through time and is now revisiting the past ‘me’ who lives in those earlier pages; like a pressed flower from an earlier time.

Traveling Back Home

Geographically, it is usually easy to transport ourselves back ‘home’. But something changes.

When I walk the pretty shopping streets of ‘home’, people I know see me like the person I was when I left. Just a little older, with the addition of a child or two, a husband, and a little grey hair. Still, they might recognize by my clothing or language that something foreign has rubbed off on me during my absence.

In my mind it still feels like home though. While there, I redo all the things I loved doing in the past. What a great feeling of comfort and happiness it gives me!

It is reassuring to have that place to go back to, and to find the big piece of your heart left there, time after time. During every visit you think that one day you might be back for good, though with less and less certainty as years go by.

And Then Life Just Happens

One day, a big road block stopped me from being able to move back ‘home’, not even close to it, for a long time.

Life happens. I made a conscious decision to build something good far away, and to integrate into my new culture to the best of my abilities.

Before I knew it, I had lived away from ‘home’ longer than I had ever lived there.

I started thinking in a different language than my native one.

My almost grown up children and my husband are genuine representatives of the culture that I now live in. I am proud of them, as I feel that they add to it. My youngest son could even run for president in my adopted country.

Citizens of the World

We are all citizens of the world with unique roots that grow over the years.

After having lived in the U.S.A. for a decade, I started to feel like a big part of me was American, despite my accent in English. I started to feel like a multinational citizen.

I am not sure of what my roots look like exactly, but I would never give them up. Like I would never give up the road that I have traveled.

Your mind and spirit evolve with all the places you go to.

It is an experience like no other to leave everything you know behind, and to open up to the new. It takes a few years to settle into another culture and our educational system can’t quite prepare us for it. Every experience is unique.

Once you have been through it, you long to find others who speak the language you have learned in the process. Not English, Spanish, German or Korean. But rather the unique language those people speak, who understand what it feels like to adapt, change and grow by assimilating from the new.

What We Leave Behind

Leaving is not easy. There is much to be missed from ‘home’.

That loving family around the corner who would have us over every Christmas Eve.

That bakery that I sat in so many times, eating a piece of cake and drinking a cup of coffee.

The neighborhood park. The clean, red and white streetcar stopping right in front of my apartment.

There are things that I miss from every place I have lived. Like happy memories, they rest in my mind and become even more beautiful over time.

To part means to die a little,

To die for what you love.

It is to leave a piece of your heart,

Any time, any place, any part.

(Edmond Haraucourt, translated from French)