Tickets have been bought and once again I am beginning to plan my journey back to my other home; Spain. As I thought about everything I wanted to do while I was back home, I reflected on how much travel has changed me. It has added a layer to my soul and has converted the way I see the world from the inside out. I was not born there of course, but maybe I was reborn in Barcelona. I think I was also reborn in Cannes and Nice and Girona. I feel comfortable in these foreign places that at one point, I had no idea existed. Like the day before you meet someone special; you lived your life fine without them but now that they are in it you can’t believe how you even functioned before them. I feel at ease in the culture and the lifestyle and when I arrive it folds around me and embraces me like a long-lost friend.
Like a friend that you haven’t seen in awhile, you have to leave them to remember and appreciate all the things you love about them. My best friend since I was a child, lives in Tokyo. Before that, she lived on a cruise ship for two years and before that in New York. At this point, I feel we’ve almost been apart as long as we were together. I miss the freckles on her face, her laugh, the way she reacts when I catch her dancing when she thinks nobody is watching. I miss how she can tell a story so well that it pulls you in, give advice and a great hug when you don’t even know you need one. I know when I see her again, just like when I place my feet on Spanish soil, I will recognize things that I forgot about or things that I will realize I miss more than I thought. I will see more freckles than I thought were there and I will notice how things have changed yet somehow stayed the same. The sidewalk in Barcelona that is decorated so beautifully, the bright blue sky and the aroma of tapas in the air. The way that long-distance friend feels after being apart for so long.
Traveling also changes how you love. I remember thinking at twenty how I knew what life was (or thought I did) and what I wanted. Travel changed the way I saw the world and how I saw love. It changed what I wanted out of life. Travel deepened the love I have for the people I met abroad and my value of friendships. It has changed my world-view because I learned the views of friends from Australia and South Africa, Taiwan and England. It has changed my vocabulary and how I view my life here in America.
It’s funny how almost six years of my life abroad fit in a couple pages in my passport. That little blue book holds those memories of places I’ve visited and the different versions of myself that I grew through as I traveled. I have been a twenty years of age girl fresh from the dorm room who had terrible fashion sense and zero language skills. I was a twenty-three years of age wife, who taught English and traveled around Europe and had a working knowledge of Spanish. I grew into a twenty-five years of age woman who spoke Spanish and Catalan and had grown up in another culture. Finally, I am a, twenty-eight years of age woman living in the states who has taken all of her adventures and tries to share her lessons with the world and who dearly misses the version of herself who she gets to visit when she goes back to Spain each year.
If you have the opportunity to travel, I encourage you to take it. It may seem like a lot of money and often it can be, but in the end experiences are priceless and after all is said and done, that money will eventually have been spent, little by little on other things in life like coffee in the morning or a dinner out with friends. In the end of that time, you could have gone somewhere and experienced something. We save for these trips and it isn’t always easy but it’s definitely always worth it. Travel if you can, see another part of this beautiful world we are a part of and come back and let me know how it changed you.