“Evolution intended us to be travelers…settlement for any length of time, in cave or castle, has been…a drop in the ocean of evolutionary time.” Bruce Chatwin, Anatomy of Restlessness
Standing still is the hardest thing. Like,harder than stale gluten free bread that was left out in the toaster for five days.Our bodies weren’t made for it. They were made for movement, for walking, for dancing, for making. And our minds were certainly not meant to be idle. Not for long.
I sit for a living. Usually at a computer with a stack of invoices to my left and ringing phone to my right. There’s a whole office of us… just sitting. And we’re not even reading anything fun!
Exercise is great, it keeps me from going completely psycho cuckoo bananas on a daily basis…mostly. I think most people that have worked in an office for more than two years are a little unhinged, but walks and talks keep the darkness mostly at bay. Mostly.
But travel, and the people you meet a long the way, that is what makes the rest of it bearable.
I’m a house-sitter – on top of the day job – so I get to live in different parts of Seattle throughout the year. Yeah, people pay me to live in their house and take care of their pets while they travel. It’s like a reverse AirBNB with kitties. Indian families are close knit so I’m not expected to leave my parents until after marriage. I thought about leaving but current rent prices have this millennial saving every penny for travel and experiences. So with the house sitting and travel, being at a stationary grown up job is tolerable. And it makes cohabiting with my needy Indian parents easier. And it makes homecomings even better. You have to leave home to really know what it is to you. And you have to leave home to really know who you are without it.
We are a complex jumble of genetics + environment. We can’t really change our genetics, but we can change our environment. And I love seeing what parts of me emerge when I do.
I went to Rome back in the spring of 2013 on a study abroad trip. I was ambitious, optimistic, and riddled with insecurities. I have always struggled with anxiety and I was definitely nervous about being away for three months. Away from everyone and everything familiar to me. And I didn’t speak Italian. Language has always been a point of pride for me, being trilingual and all and an English major. I likes to speek gewd. But I learned that humans can get over a lot of hurdles to connect. Some things don’t need words.
I came back from Rome with life long new friends, memories and a confidence I didn’t know I had. And maybe it wasn’t there before but grew in over the course of the trip.
When I studied in London the following year (because once you start moving it’s hard to stop – travel inertia), I met women that finally made me accept the feminine side of myself that my conservative Indian upbringing had caused me to repress. I learned that femininity wasn’t weakness and that it can be expressed in many different ways. I also saw how Indian people had adapted to living in London. Considering the history of colonialism, it was interesting to see. I had my first date in London (and it’s ruined me for American men). And again, I forged friendships that I couldn’t do without.
I also learned how to just have fun. How to take in the little moments of daydreaming on a train ride through the Alps or the Italian countryside, listening to the echo of church bells while walking down cobblestone streets, watching the throngs of people waft past in the piazzas in the sunset glow.
My flight leaves next week. Ima make like a snake and get on that plane. I can’t wait to get moving again.