The concept of home and the meaning of relationships are both topics I spend a lot of time thinking about. Those of you that travel frequently probably understand, likely even more so if you often travel alone. I spent quite a bit of time pondering both of these subjects before I was truly a traveler. Truth be told, an epically failed relationship is what kick-started my life of travel as it currently stands. This post doesn’t quite follow the normal scope of what I post about here, but sometimes it’s nice to share a bit of back story and how it relates to what I am doing and thinking now… so here goes.
First, home. I feel like my concept of home has been really perplexing for a while now. Since high school, or maybe even middle school, I have often referred to multiple places as home. My parents’ house, my friends’ houses, hotels, summer camp dorms, my own apartment in college, and more recently a lot of hostels and hotels. I think I have even referred to my car as home before, despite the fact that I’ve never spent more than two nights sleeping in the car in a row. More or less, it seems to me that I consider ‘home’ to basically be where ever I sleep. It so happens that I have a greater-than-average ability to control where I sleep at any given time. I usually want to be in whatever location I currently am in, so perhaps the fact that I want to be there makes it home.
Secondly, relationships. When you travel as much as I do, relationships pretty much downright suck. This year, I’ll have spent about three months in various parts of Colorado and a little over two in Michigan. Last year I spent a lot more time traveling internationally, but I was pretty solidly in Ann Arbor, Michigan when I was ‘home.’ This year I’ll have been in the US considerably more, but I’ll have spent less time in any singular place. Michigan is technically my home, but lately Colorado feels more like it is even though I call almost everywhere home. I think the reason this is true is because I have a lot of relationships in Colorado (get your mind out of the gutter!) – a lot of friends that is. When I finished school at the University of Michigan, I didn’t do a great job of making new friends in the area after most of my college friends left. My parents still live nearby, and I do have a few friends in the vicinity, but overall my relationships in the area are somewhat lacking. Colorado is a place with many more people that have similar mindsets to me compared to Michigan, at least in my experience so far. There are a fair number of freelancers I’ve met, a lot of people who love the outdoors, foodies, travelers, and others living at least somewhat non-traditional lifestyles. I’m not saying those people don’t exist elsewhere, only that I’ve had a much easier time finding those people in Colorado (and Berlin for that matter). For that reason, among others, I’ve found it easier to form new relationships in Colorado than in Michigan, and of similar ease to forming new relationships while traveling.
Maintaining relationships and taking new relationships to a deeper level is a whole different story. This is probably the biggest downside to being a frequent traveler, for me anyway. I know people all over the world, but a lot of my friendships are more surface level. There are few, if any, people who see and understand more than one small part of my life and who I could ask for advice about something outside of the frame that I met them in.
I’ve been in Colorado for the last month, with only a short weekend trip to visit a friend in Montana. In this month – more time than I have consecutively spent in any place in nearly a year – I’ve had time to deepen some relationships I have here. But, I’m still me, and thus, I’m leaving on Sunday morning. This has probably been the least excited I have been to leave a place that feels like home in more than just the ‘I’m sleeping there’ sense of how I apparently like to use the word.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m incredibly excited for my upcoming adventures. I’m going to Portugal with my Mom, to New York for a wedding with a friend, and to South Africa, Hungary, and Iran with friends. I really can’t complain, and I’m really not. After that, I’m coming back to Colorado. Does this mean I’m settling down? Probably not. But I think, hope, it means that I don’t feel the need to run away from deeper relationships anymore.