The Travel Itch

I’m sitting in my parents kitchen, drinking tea.

And it’s now that I now that the travel itch is real.

The sounds and smells are very familiar. The tea tastes like home. Only the mug is new.

In fact, it’s old. But I’ve never seen it before. And its unfamiliarity gets me thinking about why I left in the first place.

I wanted distance.

Ho,eMade Thai Stir Fry
Soothing the travel itch with home-made stir fry.

I wanted perspective.

A view of home life unavailable while at home. Things weren’t right and I didn’t know why. I knew I wanted a change.

Something was off with the whole 9-to-5 (or more like 8-to-7-because I was living in Sydney Australia and I can’t even name a professional there who keeps regular hours these days). I knew it worked for some people. Family and friends got by without complaining. Mostly.

But I knew it wasn’t working for me. And I knew I needed distance from my circumstances. Space to see where the situation was going off-kilter.

So I left.

I told myself I was going to find a new way forward.

A business plan. An entrepreneurial endeavour. A mind-map that would rework my understanding of professional life as I knew it, and make way for change when I returned.

Instead, something changed while I was away.

I didn’t see it at the time. But sitting back in my parent’s kitchen, drinking tea from that unfamiliar mug, I was struck with a disconnect. Home wasn’t home anymore.

You could grind up this building.

Blue waters and green hills to soothe the travel itch.

Break the bricks into powder.

Reduce the grains to molecular mush. Scan these with the most powerful microscopes known to man and show me one atom of home.

You won’t find it. Because we make our homes in our heads.

Which just leaves me with the itch. It’s like reverse homesickness.

The Germans have a word for it.

It’s called “Fernweh“. It’s the literal opposite of homesickness (“Heimweh”). In English, Fernweh translates to “farsickness” and means the “longing for far-off places”.

And that’s what I got. That’s what’s changed.

To quote Melody Truong (and NOT John Green man the internet is weird) “I’m in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met.”

I have the travel itch.

Kek Lok Si Temple Georgetown Penang
Soothing the travel itch with sweeping views.

And it won’t be soothed with what I felt was normal.

But home doesn’t have to be normal. There are many types of home. There are work homes, sleep homes, holiday homes. It’s not just bricks and mortar.

These homes are specific to people.

Each individual can have a different definition. What matters is that people look forward to staying there.

And an individual can have many homes. It is possible to care for many different places at once. Even if they are places they have yet to visit, yet to find.

Homes in absentia. Quixotic ideals of home.

Your home can be found when you’re trying to find a thing. Trying to change. Seeking the new.

Home can be the act of scratching the travel itch.

How do you scratch your travel itch?

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