The Leaving Side of Travelling
There’s the excitement of the unknown that permeates travel books and guides and stories and travellers, themselves. There’s the electricity of planning out your next destination, packing your suitcase and studying maps even after you’ve memorized every river and road of your soon-to-be adventure. It’s this eagerness that propels you forward onto planes, trains and automobiles to traverse the great wide open world.
But in order to go some place new you have to leave some place old.
The downside of travelling confronts you every time you are dropped off at the airport by someone who won’t be coming with you. You look forward to the hellos you’ll soon be sharing with new friends and travel companions, but dread the goodbyes that must be said before you move on.
I’ll stay in touch are the famous last words of any serial traveller or expat. You mean to. You want to. You have no excuse not to with Social Media and e-mail crawling in through the cracks of even the most remote locales. But it’s rarely enough. Somehow the people you love and miss the most are the ones that you avoid writing to, knowing how long it will take to give them the attention and details they deserve. You reduce a four page letter to a one line Miss you! on Twitter and convince yourself that commenting on their Facebook picture is as good as meeting up for coffee. In a matter of seconds you can scan their profiles to see that they’re smiling and spending their days waterskiing on Burt Lake, and for a while it’s good enough just to know that they’re doing well. You ignore a small voice that says you’re losing touch with them. You counter that pesky voice by saying that your friends are low-maintenance and you can pick up where you left off next time you see them. Isn’t that the mark of a true friendship?
But when you go home – if you do go home – it’s best to accept that your visit will fly by. Many of the good intentions you’ve had to catch up with friends and spend lots of quality time with your family will remain, well, just intentions. The reality will be a whirlwind of Happy Hours with people you want more than an hour with, and brunches where not everyone can make it because it’s the holiday season for other people, too.
Before you know it will be time to pack up and head out once more. And once again you’ll be at the airport saying goodbye and making that same ineffectual promise, I’ll stay in touch.