On Travelling: A Three Part Series (Part 1)
It was a pretty typical day.
No deep philosophical moments by Lake Ontario, sadly those don’t happen every day.
With the end of the week (and deadline) coming up, the process of research and setting up interviews gets a little more urgent on those lines of communication that haven’t connected yet.
I always find I’m spreading myself a little thin by the end of the week. Probably a combination of the frustration factor that certain people aren’t getting back to me for a story, or I’ve just been working hard for five straight days and I’m in need of a good break.
Whatever it is, at those first signs of weariness, that first small chink in the armour of my mind, a tiny voice whispers through that crack.
“You can’t do this, stop working so hard.”
Then I take a deep breath, give that voice (and whoever it belongs to) the middle finger and keep pushing.
Some of those times though, I think about how nice it would be to get nice long break from it all. No deadlines, no pressures, no stress, no unanswered emails, no chasing people.
It is at these moments that my mind always drifts to Europe.
Today was one of those times, and I realized the four year anniversary of my return home from my post-grad Europe backpacking extravaganza was just last week. I was so busy I didn’t even clue in.
I thought about this yesterday right up until I left the office for the day.
I stopped at the grocery store to grab a few things to make a solid dinner and after eating said solid dinner, I sat down at my computer and started flipping through my old pictures.
Denmark. Germany. Austria. Italy. France. Belgium. Amsterdam.
I try to avoid cliches, I think they make for lazy writing, but when you talk about a trip like this, and you say that it is “life-changing”, it may be cliche, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
A good buddy of mine wrote this song and whenever I listen to it, it always makes me think about my trip to Europe.
“I set out to find myself. I came back as somebody else.”
The line gives me goosebumps every single time, probably because it’s so true.
My brother and I were gone for nearly two months, and two months away in a foreign land, you do things you didn’t know you could do, you get through situations you had absolutely no idea you could get through.
Not all of those situations are good.
You quickly learn that all those white-washed travel blogs you read before you left really left out the grittier side of travel.
The travel blogs don’t talk about the men screaming and bleeding from the ears outside cafes in Belgium, or the homeless people that sell dented tin cans of food in Parisian alleyways.
The good situations are there too, sharing a room with five people, each of them from different spots on the globe, climbing to the top of the Church of our Saviour in Copenhagen, or getting rained on during the canal tour, missing all of it, and laughing the entire time beneath your umbrella.
All of these situations come at you in rapid fire succession, all the while you’re dealing with being away from home, your lifeline of supplies strapped to your back, dealing in foreign currency and not knowing where you’re going to be sleeping in a couple nights time or how you’re going to get there.
You get through it though, and with a fucking smile on your face (well, maybe not the screaming dude bleeding from the ears, that was pretty sketchy) and it’s these situations that form some of the best memories. Memories so strong and clear that when you bring yourself to think about them you can still hear, smell and feel everything you did in that moment.
The damp, pond-like smell of the canals that filled your nose as your legs dangled over the side and you waited for your brother, sitting with his head on his chest beside you, to recover from his first visit to the Amsterdam cafes.
The sticky and sweet, crunchy and soft Belgian waffles.
The sweat in the small of your back and the ache in your shoulders form hiking an entire day through the streets of Paris.
You’ll remember them like they’re yesterday.
My dad went on a Europe trip when he was around my age as well. He went with his brother and some friends. He went for a little longer than I did, but I talk to him about it sometimes and he can still remember things from that trip, just like it was yesterday. He’s living proof.
I know I’ll be back there some time.
And whenever I think about that next trip, I think about that line from my buddy’s song again.
I wonder who I’ll come back as this time.
Thanks for reading.