At some point during my childhood, my mother decided that she would rather spend money on my brother and me by taking us travelling than spend it on things like brand-name clothes, video games, or cable television. The fact that she was a travel agent made this more doable than it otherwise would have been. I think her decision was partly inspired by her own love of travel, but I know she also wanted us to see ourselves within the greater context of the world, and not just the city where we grew up. She wanted us to learn about different cultures, to see that people everywhere were still people with more in common with us than not, regardless of what they looked like.
As a result, I graduated from secondary school relatively well-travelled for an eighteen year-old. I had been to several countries in Europe, a few in Central America, as well as several cities in the US. I enjoyed those trips immensely, and I’m sure I learned more that was memorable from them than I did from my formal education.
This was an amazing gift from my mother, and one that I will always be grateful for. It was also something of a curse, because travel became my passion, more than a passion — a need — and it has stayed that way.
When I was younger, I took advantage of Canada’s youth exchange work permits in order to be able to finance my trips as I went. At the age of twenty, I moved to Dublin, Ireland. I ended up living there for two years, during which time I also travelled to France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Wales. Tired of the rain, I then moved to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, this time dragging along an old friend and a new potential love interest. Three years later, I moved with my (no longer new) love interest to Australia, where we lived in both Brisbane and Melbourne. After a year, we moved to Canada.
We’ve been here for four years now. It is the first time I have lived for four consecutive years in one place since I was a teenager. We’ve taken some trips since we moved here, but it was a week or two here and there.
This is considered normal. I have been trying to accept normal. I have been telling myself, you have to quit travelling sometime. Grow up. Do a real job. Save money for retirement and not just plane tickets. This is what people do.
We got a place and decorated it with love, with real, non-Ikea furniture. And it’s beautiful and perfect; I love being in it and hate the idea of swapping it for another cream-painted rental somewhere. But that somewhere keeps calling me.
I think I might not be that normal person I’m trying to be. Or at least, only half of me is, the half that loves my home, that enjoys having a salary and dental benefits, that has friends here and knows that making new friends isn’t as easy as it sounds and that sometimes you lose the old ones when you leave, that thinks it’s great to recognize the people at all the shops and restaurants in my neighbourhood, that loves having a neighbourhood at all, I guess that half is normal. The other half though, it yearns for the gypsy life I lived before.
We are considered lucky, both having jobs that give us three weeks of vacation per year, rather than the required two. But three weeks, what is that? What can you experience in three weeks? I’m fairly sure that three months is the minimum needed to learn what a city really has to offer. Longer if you need to learn the language of course. How can that fit in with my “real job?” What kind of real job lets you do that?
Those are the questions that can leave me alone for weeks at a time, but that always return. Maybe one day I will be able to reconcile my constant need for somewhere new with my desire for financial stability, a doctor I’ve met more than once, and a kitchen that I’ve had time to fill with all the necessary equipment. I fear this reconciliation will require a foray into bank robbery. Meanwhile, I will try to take every opportunity to see new places, even if the allotted time is not what I wish. (Next week, I’m going to Oregon. I’ve never been to Oregon.)
But I will also be plotting for the next big adventure.