By Arooj Idrees
‘When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything.’
If you feel this way after a long trip then it’s safe to say that you’ve been hit by the one and only ‘travelbug.’ Not the type that gets you sneezing and puking and asking for mummy. Oh no. This is worse. Much worse. The travelbug I refer to is actually an abstract feeling. A morose longing of wanting to go back to a place you’ve visited before, or rather a place you’ve never been to.
How do I know? Well, the travelbug befriended me a few months ago, when it found me lost and adrift in rainy England trying to get used to the damp streets rather than the sandy sidewalks of the Middle East. After graduation, I took the leap and decided to grab the opportunity of working and therefore, living in Kuwait. I left my family, friends and majority of my beloved books at home. The separation anxiety for all three did reach an all time high at points but it doesn’t even compare to the separation anxiety I feel now for the people and places that I adopted as my family.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my family and friends in England, I really do, but after the return home something was different. In me, in them and especially in the way I began to perceive things. I felt as though I had outgrown the people around me – not in a pretentious sense, I just couldn’t relate to them like I did before. Even the conversations we had contained the ‘try hard’ ingredient which just didn’t mix as well as it used to. I’d find myself telling everyone about my adventures from the past year and was excited to hear theirs. But were they wholly interested? I think not. So I learnt to stop elaborating each time someone spoke of going to a place I may have visited or times when I thought my opinion may be of use. Honestly, I felt like I was stuck in a rut. Nothing was stimulating enough or exciting enough. I craved novelties in my life in the form of places, people, activities and most importantly food. And no, the local Thai food didn’t satisfy my pining foreign delicacies and still doesn’t to this day. I’m in need of a temporary cure and the only prescription I’m willing to take is a plane ticket. To anywhere.
Coming home after a long trip is actually very hard. A subject not many people address. But the struggle is real. After a year of mind blowing experiences, post-travel depression finds you and consumes you making you come to the realisation that your life is exactly where you left off. You’re job hunting, living at home and rather than going forward you’re travelling backwards. From having a full time job and having your own routine, you’re suddenly sat on your parents’ sofa, internet surfing, Netflix watching and stuffing your never satisfied stomach.
You come to realise that the place you’ve lived for the majority of your life, the place you call home, the representation of comfort and solidity – has become the exact opposite of what it was. It doesn’t exist anymore and that’s because the person you were when you lived there has become nonexistent. She’s nothing but a mere memory you’ve left behind. And this feeling of disorientation ultimately leads you in search of something more exhilarating. You’ve changed, you’ve grown, you’ve experienced different cultures and styles of living. The old you has evaporated into the foreign air you’ve been breathing.
Being bit by the travelbug is a very strange sensation. One that is often fickle and mostly selfish; it’ll make you constantly think of ‘me, me, me’ and ‘I, I, I.’ But be very wary. Despite it being inevitable, you must ensure you overcome this feeling. Otherwise, it will take you down memory lane and have you battling between your past and present. And let’s face it; the past is dead and gone. The present is where you are, so keep looking forward and put your all into the next opportunity that comes into your life. A part of you will always live in another place but that’s inevitable for a wanderluster. You just have to learn how to deal with it in the best way that suits you. And that does not mean buying another plane ticket! Not always, anyway.