A little knowledge

What do you learn about yourself and others while travelling?

Some cities are better for living in than visiting, and some lose their shine when you spend a lot of time with them. Los Angeles is the quintessential “It’s nice to live there but I wouldn’t want to visit” city; it is a place that only accepts you once you’ve made a substantial initial investment. Seattle, on the other hand probably wins the prize for best city to visit. It offers a wealth of sensory delight, all consumable within a day or two, and offers you whatever you need during your stay. 

In a month of travel I didn’t spend more than two nights in a row in any one place. It was a parade of first dates and reunions with one city after another, everywhere and everyone was on their best behaviour for a few hours and then I’d leave, stealing a morsel of sleep before doing it all over again with a new airport, a fresh city, and a different friend. It’s easy to get used to the constant novelty, even as you start to wish for the comfort of familiarity. 

I rarely slept more than 5 hours at a time over the course of the month, probably due to the adrenaline rush this constant novelty creates. I did eventually crash after the night I spent in PIT, arriving back in DC early in the morning and spending a gloriously sunny day comatose in my sister’s spare room for a decadent six hours before getting up and going to yoga. Seemingly limitless opportunity for exploration and discovery drove me, and the discoveries were as much about how I move under stress as about the cities I flirted with. 

People who travel for business eventually wear out, but I passed the point of “I’d like to be home now” twice over the course of the month, coming out the other side both times simply because I had to. This was the opportunity of a lifetime, and I was not going to waste it by being miserable and wishing I was home. So by the time I did get home, it was a bit of a shock. I’d spent so much energy making sure I didn’t acknowledge anything resembling homesickness that when I finally saw my home shores, I nearly collapsed. 

Through the tapestry of airports and cities and timezone changes, the common thread was myself, the 5k runs, and the music I listened to. I had a place to return to, though I did not ever want to stay too long lest I impose, and free rein across the United network. I went to a few places simply to see them, but by far the most important stops were the ones where I saw people. After the music and the strong internal base, the relationships I fed formed the core of the journey. Even more than the many MANY airplanes. 

I learned that people are mostly friendly in small doses. I learned that too much structured planning is folly, but without a few touchpoints one is easily lost. I learned to run, and I learned to breathe. And I learned that airports are paved paths to adventure. They aren’t there to be pretty. 

Airplane at the gate with a rainbow in the background.
Still not pretty, but still teeming with the promise of adventure.