My best friend from high school has finished the first draft of her second book and as I was reading it last night I had to laugh. Not because it was funny, but because two of her characters were doing drugs. Drugs aren’t funny, kids! But Ann writing about teens doing drugs sort of is.
Ann was always a bit cooler than me, which wasn’t hard because I was a supremely bland teenager. Too straight to get into drinking or drugs, smart-ish but not motivated enough to be a true nerd, and liked by just enough people not to be a cool loner, I was that kid that no one bothers to write into the high school comedy because… what would be the point?
Ten years later I find myself Googling what the eff molly is (see? I’m not even colorful enough to swear), so I guess I’m still as boring as ever. At least as far as drugs are concerned. What can I say, I’m just too terrified of death to have ever experimented, so I’ve remained clueless.
Reading about the characters’ experience with drugs I realized that a lot of it seemed familiar. Not only have I experienced those same feelings, but I’m pretty sure I felt that same exact high half an hour ago when my plane took off for Norway.
Yes, I am writing this on an airplane and no, gentleman sitting next to me, you may not read this over my shoulder. I don’t mean to be rude, it’s just that travel blogging is really embarrassing, mmkay?
Now, I know what you’re thinking: how is travel like a drug?
Well, let me just tell you the ways:
It alters your perspective
If you’ve been following my blog you might have noticed that basically every place is The Best Place Ever! My New Favorite! The colors are more vivid, the food tastes better, and I just love everyone I meet while traveling! Exclamation points foreveeeever!!!!!!!!!!!
I just spent a week back home in the U.S. and really tried to approach my time in Massachusetts with the same enthusiasm I have for new places. It sort of worked! But did that slice of American pizza which I know is much better than anything I tried in the Balkans really taste as good? No because it wasn’t from Kosovo!
I guess travel has made me realize I don’t want to live in the United States. But on the flip side, even this short trip away from Trondheim showed me how much I really do love life in Norway, even if adjusting has been a struggle at times. It’s all about perspective.
Travel has shown me how universally good people are, how drop dead gorgeous the world is, how privileged I’ve am, what that privilege has denied me, and how many different, equally good ways there are to live these lives we’ve all been granted.
It makes you both more courageous + more fearful
That’s right, I watched Pineapple Express, so I know that being high makes you both bold and a total scaredy cat, which is exactly how I feel when I’m in a new country.
It’s like, oh hey, mafia man in Tajikistan, why yes I will get in your jeep even though your driver has a knife scar across his neck. There aren’t many cars on the Pamir Highway, so I’ll take any ride I can get!
But ask me to go before you in line at this Soviet-style canteen? Oh Heck No. What if I mess up? I’m pretty sure it’s your turn to go first anyway. Remember when you made me buy the train tickets in Russian last week and I left the ticket counter in tears?
When abroad a lot of the simplest tasks become inexplicably terrifying. The plus side is that this provides lots of opportunities to conquer my fears and feel like a rockstar. Small wins, guys.
Your problems disappear
I’ve talked before about traveling as a shy person and how I no longer feel awkward when abroad – or rather, I can blame my awkwardness on being a foreigner, not on being me.
And when I’m hanging out with other travelers it doesn’t seem to matter that I don’t yet have a career because no one else does either!
And if I still think I have problems then I’ll just talk with my host family in Armenia whose children have all had to move to Russia to find work and I’ll realize that I have nothing to complain about ever ever.
Did I just spend yet another day I’m supposed to be job searching instead reading about travel in Pakistan and writing yet another article about Central Asia? NO.
Ugh fine, but can you do me a favor and schedule my intervention for after October 7th? It’s just I found this really cheap flight to Moldova…
You spend all your money on it
And I mean all my money. While working in Japan I saved over $40,000 in the name of travel and since have barely let myself spend any of that on food or accommodation (I’ve gotten better at this since moving to Norway, though I did only spent $132 on food here last month).
It starts to interfere with your everyday life, relationships, and work
Is life just boring without
Some days I’ll have a minor freak out over adjusting to “normal life” with a lease, bills, and work commitments. And then I’ll take a step back and remember that I have a KITCHEN! I can totally bake apple crisp this weekend if I want.
My friends don’t really seem to mind that they only see me over Skype, or in person every few years. Well, the friends that I have left, that is.
Does travel blogging count as a career? No?
It heals you (if you don’t abuse it)
If travel is a drug, then it would be the kind that’s originally meant to be a medicine, and we probably each have different tolerances for it. Some people never do it, some people can do it their entire lives and feel amazing, some people only do it for short spurts and then need a break, and some people think they’re on it for life only to realize that they seriously need to slow down.
I’m probably the last person.
Which person are you?