While writing this, I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Austin after dropping off Erin at the airport following our second roomie reunion. I’ll make sure to share how that went, but it’s been cold and rainy all weekend, and I remembered that I had written some thoughts on traveling while on my way to Seattle two weeks ago, so you get a mushy, rambling, introspective post first. (<– DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU.)
So, like I said, this came to me on my way to see Robby (wow, need to write about that, too). I was on my second 2.5-hour flight, dehydrated and slightly delirious, and a mix of thoughts were floating through my head. I remembered something Abi had said recently that went something like, “daydreams are better than regular dreams because you can usually remember them in detail.” And I was definitely daydreaming. Past flights came to mind, and all of the combined emotions I felt on them waved over me. I became hyper-aware of where I was going and why, really contemplated the significance of travel in my life, and noticed how the purpose of it has changed from what I did in college to now.
If you haven’t already, this is where you can stop reading if you only like this blog for the pics.
Airports are kind of strange places, right? It seems that air travel brings out a different side of everyone: parents become even more overprotective and stressed as they herd their small children around, the calm-and-collected personalities are suddenly thrown into a state of confusion and lost baggage, the quiet types are forced to bond with their seatmates on a long flight, even if they will never see that person again. Everyone has a completely different end goal, yet they all need to go through the same means to achieve it.
If I go back through significant moments in my recent life history, most of them happened in an airport or were bookended by a walk through airport security and baggage claims: discovering Pittsburgh, leaving the country for the first time, being introduced to Argentina (and later taken away from it), living and traveling in Europe for the first time, commemorating graduation by traveling with my best friends, and lately, reconnecting with those friends all over the country. They’re the memories that stick because they were the most emotionally intense, whether I was running in three directions at once with a stupid excited grin on my face or bawling my eyes out alone in a window seat on the plane. Or a mix of the two. Opening yourself to a new place and accepting it as a part of you is both invigorating and heartbreaking knowing you must leave it behind, even to return to the place you call home.
Going through those moments made me start thinking about all the people I appreciate (and used to appreciate) the most in my life. A lot of them I’ve met while traveling or talking about it, and you definitely realize who matters when you’re willing to throw away a lot of time, money, and leg room to go see them. Recognizing that, a latent guilt started to creep into my chest when I thought of those I haven’t made those small sacrifices for. Technology may be keeping us more easily connected than ever, but nothing beats being at the same table with a lifelong friend to catch up on what time and distance have taken away.
I’ve been doing a lot of life evaluation lately, so maybe this is a byproduct of that exercise, or maybe I was just short on sleep and fluids when I wrote these thoughts down. In any case, it’s helped remind me what I’ve found to be meaningful all along: uncovering the wonderful oddities the world has to offer, finding my own niche in unexpected places, and sharing it all with people who make me a better person.
Let the soul searching and good times continue.