Hopeless Wanderer: A Traveler’s Dilemna

Who doesn’t love a Mumford and Sons song? Well, I’m sure some people do – it’s a crazy sort of world. But I’m sure most people are familiar with the tune, or the celebrity filled music video, and for those of you who aren’t, just close your eyes and imagine with me…

Though, you probably shouldn’t actually close your eyes since that would make it impossible for you to keep reading, and I want you to keep reading. Or perhaps you are a freaky/magnificent X-Men-like creature who can see with your eyes closed. Which, come to think of it, is a pretty awesome super power. Has someone already called dibs on that or do I smell a short story?

Right, okay. Back to the point, which sadly is not trying to understand my creative process. Or maybe it is. To be honest, I’m not really sure. Just let me set the scene…

I’m sitting on the couch, melded comfortably into the form of my butt-indentation, covered in a sea of blankets in an attempt to stay warm in a ‘heat in the UK is now crazy expensive’ kind of world. I have my iTunes on shuffle, both too lazy to create a new playlist, and too non-committal to listen to a single album straight through. This results in the occasional ‘oh god, I still have that song on here’ or a ‘who on earth is this?’ but every now and then iTunes is the perfect DJ. And in this case, the shuffle hits a chord (get it) with me that I wasn’t expecting knee deep in bowl of pasta. Music sometimes, you know?

For those of too distracted by Jason Bateman to listen to the lyrics (completely understandable), for me it’s essentially about an individual who can’t stand still for anyone:

“And hold me close, hold me fast
Cause I’m a hopeless wanderer”

Usually the song immediately reminds me of being on the train through Germany and Austria – since my playlist for that trip consistently almost solely of the alternative folk group in preparation for seeing them in Berlin. It puts me back on the train, gazing out at the alps, attempting to communicate in my non-existent German, working on my writing submission for a competition… Simply, it makes me happy.

Some 5am alps enroute to Vienna

Some 5am alps enroute to Vienna

But today the song felt different. It was less about a trip down nostalgia lane, and more a query about my future. Mainly, my travels are almost over. I’m set to go home in less than three months. After having been away for nearly a year and a half, knowing I’m going to be home soon has brought up a tidal of emotions both expected and unexpected.

Now I’ve never been one much for travel. I didn’t get my passport until I was nineteen. At which point, I got on my first plane with my sister, and got stranded in Denver on route to London. Nothing says baptism of fire like a three hundred person queue and a shady airport motel. However, the point is that I spent a large portion of my twenty-two years (nearly twenty-three – insert cringe) in the same place, and I certainly wasn’t miserable. I knew I wanted to travel, but I always figured I was more of a two-week holiday destination sort of girl. I certainly never thought that when I moved away from home for the first time that it would be to the other side of the world.

In short, this experience has been absolutely nothing like I imagined and everything I could have possibly hoped it would be. I’ve learned so much about myself, and other people. Other cultures. Places. Feelings. How to cook pizza in your hostel without an oven. How to accidentally smuggle yourself into Germany. How many times you can wear the same pair of socks without making everyone around you boke. How to understand a Glaswegian.

I’ve done and seen so much, and I know I haven’t even scratched the surface. Honestly, I don’t know how I’m meant to stop.

Now don’t get me wrong, I feel ridiculously homesick on the occasion. It’s also not a great idea to watch the new Skype ad when experiencing said feelings either, unless you’re keen on saving make-up remover by using your natural ducts. Words cannot explain what it will feel like to hug my family, pet my animals, go for coffee with friends I’ve had since grade school, and meet my cousin’s baby girl. I’m not exactly excited to go from the positive side of the thermometer to -40 degree weather either. Nor am I thrilled at the prospect of leaving behind Edinburgh castle, the Indian takeaway downstairs, my new mates or my view of Arthur’s seat.

I knew it was never going to be easy to leave, but I can’t help but feeling like I have a serious case of cold feet, figuratively and literally.

And it has me wondering, am I now a hopeless wanderer?

Never content too long in a single place. Always looking for something different. New. Exciting. Wanting to experience ever nook and cranny this planet has to offer to try and have a fraction of an understanding as to what the human experience looks like in all its forms? Is that the real curse of a traveler? To be pushed so far out of your box that you’re not even sure what that box might look like now. That the word ‘comfortable’ bores you rather than brings you peace of mind – excusing, of course, blanket covered sofas.

Wandering the streets in Innsbruck.

Wandering the streets in Innsbruck

Or is that really what I’m really scared of? What is going to happen when my inner-wanderer is forced to go home? What if I’m scared to lose that insatiable appetite for adventure in exchange for the familiar, particularly reasonably priced sushi and twenty-four hour breakfast joints. If I’m known as the ‘crazy Canadian traveler’ here, who am I when I get home? No car, no job, no longer a viable answer as to what I’m doing with my life. Just a wannabe writer home from Europe, moving back in with her mom.

I’m terrified of feeling stuck. Complacent. Lost.

It’s going to be an emotional twenty-three hours of travel across the Atlantic, especially since ten of those hours will be spent feeding my emotions during several painfully long layovers. I’m prepared to laugh, and cry. Probably a lot of the latter, and an unsettling amount of the maniacal sleep-deprived version of the former.

I do know who I’ll be when I get off the plane – a crazy, jet-lagged human shell stuffing her face with Boston cream donuts. What I’m not prepared for is the person I’m going to be this time next year, because, honestly, I haven’t a clue who she will be.

Maybe I’ll take a leaf from Mumford and “learn to love the skies I’m under.” Maybe those skies will be in Toronto. Or Australia. Or maybe I’ll find I have a deep love for the ‘land of the living skies’ that I’ve forgotten. There is also the distinct possibility that I’ve fallen in love with travelling itself. Something my wallet might take a few issues with.

As J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “Not all those who wander are lost.” And if Tolkien says so, then everything will be fine. Right?

And yes, I’ve have just ended this identity crisis with some Lord of the Rings. Now what does that say about me?

2 thoughts on “Hopeless Wanderer: A Traveler’s Dilemna

  1. Pingback: Stone Crumbles

  2. ‘I’m terrified of feeling stuck. Complacent. Lost.’

    I’m back and still feeling that way. I want to run away back to Edinburgh, it seems the easiest thing. I’m both scared I won’t be comfortable here now and scared I will. It’s strange and hard to wrap my head around. But I feel ya, bro. Just remind yourself that you can never be stuck if YOU don’t allow it. But I do really like the Australia possibility of where you will end up :)

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