I will attempt to keep us on the outskirts of mushiness with this post, but I can’t promise anything. With the amount of times I’ve accidentally cried in public, in my car, and into various voice-mailboxes this past month, I’m not sure I can even promise that I won’t be crying by the end of this sentence.*
Over the past two weeks I traveled from Chicago to New Orleans to Savannah to Washington, D.C. I had originally planned to include Memphis and Atlanta in this trip, and I also flirted with Charleston for a second (flirted HARD. I regret leaving this one out). These were all places I’d never been, and I figured that if I was heading down to meet my sister for a conference in New Orleans during a period of time in which I had no 9 to 5 job and a bit of extra cash, I might as well try to explore more of the southern US while I was at it.
But this past month has been rough, guys. For a lot of reasons. And I realized I was just not in the mood to be on my own for that long, even if it meant traveling to new cities that I was genuinely excited about. Traveling is difficult and draining even if it’s something you love to do, and it’s so much more difficult and draining if you’re emotionally fragile to the point that just sitting in the same spot for too long initiates a five-hour sobfest.
So I decided to cut my list. I would see my sister in New Orleans, spend just two days alone in Savannah, and then hang out for five days in DC with several friends. New Orleans and Savannah would be new, so I would still get to cross two places off my list. Washington D.C. itself would be old news – I actually really hate D.C., it’s too crowded and expensive and loud – but being with my friends would maybe help keep me from crying so much. Or, at the very least, I would have a few people around who would be forced to pay attention to me and love me despite all of the crying (my roommate Allison deserved a break from this).
I’m not really a fan of traveling to the same place twice when there are still so many places that I need to see for the first time, and I think that up until this point that’s been the main focus for me: place, not people. But now that I’ve started to see place after place after place, the thought of doing it over and over again just really tires me out sometimes. Maybe it’s just because I’m in this funk, but the thought of seeing Memphis, Savannah, Atlanta, and Charleston completely by myself seemed overwhelming and sad rather than exciting and new. I just wanted to hang out on a couch in D.C. with my friends, even if the city of D.C. had nothing new or exciting to offer me.
I love traveling because of the new things I am able to see and experience, the people I am able to meet and connect with, and the inevitable self-revelations (read: self-hatred) that come with all of the 20-hour train rides. The newness is thrilling. But I also love traveling because I can hop on a plane or train or bus and end up in a familiar city on a familiar couch with some of my oldest friends – and this is comforting in a way that all of that newness can’t ever be.