2 years ago, I wrote this post on the biggest lesson I’ve learned about being a grown-up. In the post, I talked about how being on the road is what helps me feels centered when I’m losing control and the chaos of my life takes over my calm. When Laura sent us the prompt about what kind of traveler I turn into, that post was the first thing that popped in my head. Then I started to really think about the question. See, I’m kind of the odd man out in my family. I dream too big, I care too much and I just can’t quite fit in. I’m also the memory keeper. From Turkey to DC to Seattle, I’ve kept all of the pictures for my family. I don’t mean just of my lifetime. I have my dad’s high school diploma, my mom’s pictures from when she was a teenager and black & white pictures of relatives I can’t name because they passed away years before my parents even met.
When I unpacked my suitcase from my east coast trip last week, I noticed that one of the zippered compartments of my suitcase was a little bulky. I couldn’t remember packing anything in there but I unzipped it to find a stack of letters from when I was 9, before we moved to the US. My best childhood friend and I sent each other letters when my family and I moved to a different city in Turkey. The wave of nostalgia that hit me was too great to handle, but it got me thinking about what life looks like for me on the road.
I’ve been doing a lot more traveling in the last few years. I do take a lot of pictures but I also experience the moment. Whether it’s my first time going to a new place or it’s somewhere I’ve been countless times, every experience is a new opportunity for me to notice different nuances of that particular location. Even if nothing in the landscape has changed, there is always something different.
Because I’m different.
So I explore. I observe. I take it all in. I take pictures when I can but I also try to experience the moment, not through the lens of my camera but my own two eyes. I smile at strangers. I take deep breaths. I take out my headphones and listen to the moment instead of my music.
I turn into a tourist. Even in a city where I spent a majority of my life, if I’m in the mood, I become a tourist.
*Playing tourist in front of the White House*
The thing is, I’m a hopeless romantic and by extension, I’m a hopeless wanderer.
And I travel to remember – who I was, who I am, and who I am going to become as I continue on my journey.
I don’t call myself an aspiring digital nomad for shits and giggles. I want to wander into as many corners of the world as possible in my lifetime – observing, experiencing, and when appropriate, being a tourist.
Inspired by this prompt from Laura: Some people travel to relax; some travel to remember. Some reinvent themselves into entirely new people when they travel. What kind of traveler do you turn into and what does life look like for you on the road?