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I’m Not Going Anywhere: Saying Goodbye to my Wanderlust

I’ve always loved traveling. I love the planning, anticipation, journey, and everything that comes along with going somewhere. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s somewhere known or unknown, and it doesn’t matter to me if things go as planned. I don’t mind having to think on my feet and figure out a solution, and if I have to do it in another language, it’s even better. I love the challenge of being somewhere where I don’t have all the answers. Somewhere people don’t know me or expect me to fix anything. Somewhere I can be myself or be someone else entirely. I crave travel.

I most definitely have a case of wanderlust.

travelling, wanderlust, airport, air travel

It’s 2AM in Madrid and I’m in an (almost) empty airport, but I’m loving it.

There’s something so romantic about stepping out of a plane (or train or even your own car) and breathing in the air of somewhere new. For me, traveling isn’t just about the new sights or smells or even tastes; it’s about the way I feel inside. Being away from home gives me a chance to escape from work, from a place where literally a hundred people need me in one way or another. It gives me the chance to toss aside the weight of daily responsibility and the monotony of laundry and dishes.

It gives me the freedom to come alive.

traveling, international travel, island

When I was studying abroad in Spain, I took a weekend trip to San Sebastián. I loved it.

Honestly, the destination isn’t the most important part of traveling. It’s more about the experiences for me. Whether I’m on a plane to San Sebastián, on a bus to Lisboa, or in the car heading to Central Vermont, I relish the little stops on the way, the drinks I don’t usually buy for myself, and the general feeling of doing something different. I recently wrote about my goals assignment for a college class, where I named regular international travel as a part of my long-term life plan. I did travel to Spain a handful of times since writing my goals paper, but over time, international travel, and even interstate travel have become more and more infrequent in my life.

traveling, mountains, clouds

One summer in college, my (now) husband and I spent a few weeks in the Smokies in Tennessee.

There were choices that I made, happily, as my boyfriend and I became fiances. I went to Spain right after we got an apartment together, but my international travel ended there. We chose a house over a European honeymoon, and our plans to go to Italy and Hungary moved further into the distance. Our trips to the Maine coast became fewer and more far between, and our trips to Montreal dwindled. Our vacations turned into day trips. We decided to have a baby, and our honeymoon moved even further out on the horizon.

For a while, I thought here and there about going somewhere far away, but I realized recently that I’ve given up hope.

travelling

We used to visit Maine in October when the beaches were empty and we had everything to ourselves.

I also realized, to my surprise, that I don’t feel any resentment. I don’t blame my husband or my child for our changes in circumstance. I’m not even upset or disappointed. I’ve given up one of my dreams, and it feels strange to say that I don’t feel much of anything when I think about it. It makes me wonder if somewhere along the path of becoming a mother, I decided subconsciously that my dreams didn’t matter anymore.

And I wonder if I’m alone in this.

The other night, at dinner, I suddenly asked my husband if he knew about the list of places in the world I had always wanted to go. He started to say, “No,” but, as often happens in a house with a toddler and dogs, there was an interruption. I knew he cared about the conversation, but we never came back to it.

traveling, airport, baby carrier

Now, my airport trips consist of dropping friends off or picking them up. Always with a baby in the front pack.

I guess, if one thinks in terms of cliches, I suppose that I’ve chosen to, “Put down roots,” instead of following my wanderlust. Thinking back now, I can recall a time after getting married when I struggled with a feeling of being stuck and feeling trapped. Even with our regular jobs and bills, I couldn’t afford to save for a vacation, and I hated not being able to do anything about that. And now, after our financial responsibilities have grown further, I’ve come to believe that I’ll never be able to save for the travel I imagined I’d be able to do.

For a few years, at least, it seems I’ve been living in ignorant bliss, oblivious that my dream was slipping through my fingers. Now that I realize how complacent I’ve become, I wonder if I’ll be able to cope with the loss of my wanderlust.

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