My relationship with travel is ‘complicated’. When are relationships ever uncomplicated? you may ask; that it is a status option on Facebook speaks volumes, not to mention family feuds and tested friendships. Considering interpersonal relationships, the way I feel about travel actually is not so dissimilar; it’s a case of can’t live with it, can’t live without it…
Let me explain myself. Although jetting off and being on the road inevitably entails demoralising delays, pickled plans, and tremendous terrors, I cannot possibly complain about the travel experience, nor do I wish to dwell on such aspects. Rather, my inner turmoil is centred on the paradox that, sometimes, I hate to love travelling.
Far from the hiccups and struggles typical to backpacking or establishing a home abroad, what I hate about travel is not travelling. Short of hypochondriac tendencies, I assign syndromes such as January blues, S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder), or ‘stress’ to myself as an excuse for a long face or a low chin, but the reality is that these excuses are just cover-ups. “My name is Louise, and I’m addicted to travel.” Like many anonymous addicts, every time I come down on the plane I’m left with the withdrawal symptoms that last for months.
Therein lies the problem. One cannot just go gallivanting to more exotic terrains or culturally captivating countries whenever one feels like it; there’s work to be done, money to be earned and family to please. So being in love with the notion of travel may as well be unrequited, when it simply cannot be committed to and I curse myself for insisting on this foolish affair when, during the off spells, I realise that relationships with friends and family have been diluted or transformed by my absence; by the accumulation and ever increasing duration of the on spells.
Luckily, family and friends can offer unconditional love; humouring whimsical crazes and irrational obsessions… the same, however, cannot be said for travel. The city you adore will only love you in return for as long as you give it the attention it requires; become too familiar with it and it will soon be fluttering its eyelashes at the next set of novel tourists to grace its cobbles. On the other hand, that niggling sensation of not being able to become so familiar with a place, of knowing that one day you will have to go ‘back’, disadvantages you in certain situations and, when it comes to building personal relationships, establishes that barrier of (long) distance before you’ve even booked the return flight.
That said, without the pleasure we find in the things that are bad for us, be it chocolate, alcohol or good –for- nothing lovers, life almost doesn’t seem worth living. So, despite its downfalls and my frustrations caused by this on-off relationship that I have come to depend on, I’m willing to give in to the fact that travel is, and will always be, one of my many vices that I can’t always live with, but never ever want to live without.