Is there such as thing as feeling homesick for a place you don’t call home? What do we call that longing that you feel in the pit of your stomach for a place that you once visited, and just felt a connection with? I look back on some of the places I visited, and I am astonished with the beauty that I witnessed. I remember walking through Ubud breathlessly because I couldn’t believe such a wonderfully beautiful place could exist. And yet there are other places, decidedly less exotic like Dublin or even Paris that just fill me with a sense of familiarity and belonging. I loved those cities in a different way than the way I loved Kuta or Langkawi or even Tokyo. They were places where I immediately felt comfortable and had that “Yeah I could live here” thoughts.
I was looking through photos I took while I studied in Paris. I still and will always look back on those four months with nothing but positive thoughts. It was a surreal experience, and I don’t think there was single day there where I felt weary or bored of my surroundings. I even recall moments when I was walking my normal route to classes and just being overcome with disbelief that I was living and carrying out life in such a magnificent city. I remember I discovered the wondrous music of Johnny Flynn in Paris, and to this day if I hear “The Wrote and the Writ” I can see, smell, and feel the Parisian air. It will always be one of my favorite songs.
Returning to Paris, even for a short amount of time is still an unreal concept to me. It was always something to which I said ‘yes someday’. Someday I will go back to Paris. Someday I will walk through Montmarte. Someday I will walk out of Edgar Quinet like I did every day as a student. Some day I will wander around the Marais hearing in my head the lectures of my Art History professor..
I experience what I like to call Traveler’s Guilt. I’m fortunate enough to see this world and travel it as I please. And so I feel like I must see as much of it as I can. How could I possibly go back to Dublin for a third time when I haven’t even touched any part of Africa? I’m living in Asia, why not go to China or Thailand? What about eastern Europe? You’ve never even gone east of Munich. It’s silly I know. There will always be someone far more well-traveled. Someone who you look at and just know that they’re experienced more in a year than you will in your life. All the talk of secret beaches and mountains climbed and hole in the wall haunts where you can find the best curry you will ever taste I swear to God.
But that’s okay I’ve decided. I’m a novice traveler I suppose. I won’t ever say things like “Why would you visit that city? This city is so much nicer. It’s way more off the beaten path.” I won’t because I won’t know any better. Because despite the fact that I have traveled and I do travel and I will travel, I really feel like I’m constantly lost or in over my head or just completely and utterly in awe with everything. Heck I grew up practically next to it and Manhattan holds as much wonder for me as the jungles of Malaysia and coastal towns of France. I’m just constantly amazed that life exists and carries on all over the world and that I get to witness it from time to time.