Books and Maps
Nerds are wonderful.
After years of trying to pretend to be cooler than I am, I have come to love my own nerd-ity. It might just be that I like books more than cheerleading and buy more maps than cute shoes. I often don’t brush my hair thoroughly and lack coordination in all forms. I’m bad at sports, worse at driving and often a miss at witty conversation. Maybe that’s why Travel and I get along so well.
Travel’s just like me. While it’s usually well-meaning, Travel is also awkward, hard to follow and laughs a little too hard at its own jokes. Don’t believe me on that last one? Come to Vietnam and see how much the locals enjoy watching you try to use chopsticks.
Also, Travel moves around in a self-preservation sort of way. Just when one group starts to catch on to its antics; starts to realise that Travel is more about museums than cool clubs, it’s gone and off to try and convince someone new that it’s part of the In Crowd (the fact that I just used “In Crowd” further explains my nerdy point).
Those who choose to spend so much time with a nerdy companion like Travel are often nerds, themselves. After all, the only way to deal with Travel’s obsession with long bus rides is to master a few dorky pastimes – like blogging. When Travel decides to cut the power at 8 o’clock on a Friday night, one must learn to love making shadow puppets in front of flashlights. And don’t get me started on the toilet paper situation. Travel seems to think it’s more a luxury than a necessity. Even great Nerds have come to blows with Travel over this one, but the very nerdiest of us have learned to secretly keep a stash in our bras at all times. And for once, it’s not there to pad the bras in question – this toilet paper is a functional stowaway.
There is also a darker side to the Nerdy Traveler. There are those who use Travel as an escape route from failed attempts at Real Life back at home. Sadly there is a disproportionate amount of the Lonely, the Broke, the Searching who opt for Travel, or to settle abroad, quite simply because they had nothing better going on at home. Then there are those who see Travel as a means to legitimacy. They are the ones who have no idea what to do with their lives other than to travel. They don’t want to work. There’s something about banging on me drum all day that enters the mind instead. Travel suddenly justifies their otherwise wishy-washy actions. Travelers can drink more, work less and party any night of the week just because they’re overseas. Rather than judge themselves against their hometown peers these Escape Travelers can plead Apples vs. Oranges .
But the more pure-of-heart nerds within the Traveling World are the ones who have finally lost all pretences and admitted that THIS is what they want to do. Forget the new car or the stainless steel appliances. They want a grubby backpack and some worn out sandals. The experiences garnered with Travel are as tangible to them as a new couch. These are the travelers who actually know something about the temple they’re visiting – and want to know more. They’ll throw back a shot or two but they’ll also get out of bed before noon and actually see what’s around them. Travel is the goal in and of itself, not an excuse, not an escape and not a license to behave badly.
These are the Travel Nerds near and dear to my own dorky heart. They are the ones I am lucky to meet over a game of chess or a debate about Ayn Rand.
So thank you, fellow Nerds, for sharing your books and maps, and for making this travel thing so much fun.