This is the first spring in three years that I am not planning an exciting summer adventure. My adult brain is stepping in and reminding me that I actually don’t have the funds to spend another summer
galavanting working in Europe, as much as I would love to. So, although I know this is the logical step to take, and as much as I know there are fun and incredible things I can do in California this summer, I’m already overcome with nostalgia for my Swiss mountain home, and for the freedom of traveling.
There is a unique type of nostalgia for traveling. Somehow, it’s a different flavor from College Nostalgia, High School Nostalgia, and even Childhood Nostalgia. While traveling, the identity you find, craft, and receive is so different from all others. It’s the ultimate freedom- all you have is yourself and your suitcase, and all that truly matters is your passport. I can’t help but liken the experience of travel to nighttime skinny dipping- you get to experience all the joy and freedom without ever worrying that your companions will notice or care that you’re not actually wearing a bathing suit.
The relationships you form are short-lived, so, in a way, you get to be yourself more completely than other moments. You can live to greater extremes, because you’re not so concerned with impressing others, with forming positive impressions for the “future,” because all that exists is the present.
I look back on friendships forged overseas, and they almost seem more genuine than those I have at “home” because they are so simple, and based so lightly upon the mutual fact of existence. Every day, every conversation, every bite you take, is a moment you can never have again, so every second counts. You can’t help but fall in love with every city you find, because, despite its imperfections, you may never be there again, and seeing the flaws brings you nothing.
I suppose that what I’m nostalgic for is this extreme living, loving, learning. As much fun as it is to be a tourist in your own town, there’s no way to surround yourself with the same community of travelers and diversity that one has overseas, there’s no way to step straight into a world and a reality vastly different from your own. You can’t help but feel that someone has turned the lights on during your nightswim. Yes, the philosophies can be carried forward, the random encounters and new experiences, but LA smog is somehow far less bearable than the pollution of Beirut, and the rolling brown hills of California will never quite compare to the extreme craggy green of the Alps. I miss the close hot humidity and musically unending cacophony of Beirut, the soft green fog of Swiss mornings, the still, stifling heat of Rome, the low-hanging grey of London, and all the promise that foreign mornings hold.