The Weirdest Part of Travel
I recently wrote a post called “The Hardest Part of Travel,” and now I want to look at a different superlative:
The weirdest part of travel.
This came up because of the whole North Korea-South Korea will-they-or-won’t-they go to war thing. I’ve had a few people ask what I think about it, and how I imagine the people in South Korea are reacting, and aren’t I glad I got out when I did?
And my reaction, typically, is this:
Why are you asking me? …Oh yeah, I lived in Korea for two years. Sorry, forgot about that.
This is part of a disturbing trend when it comes to me and travel. When I leave a place, no matter how long I was there, it sort of…vanishes from my memory. All of the details, the richness, the reality – they all disappear, leaving vague, inadequate statements in their wake.
Which means conversations like this:
Friend: So, how was Korea? That’s crazy that you were there for so long!
Me: I know! It was (awkward extended pause) really interesting. (scramble for a better word) Different.
Or like this:
Friend: What was South America like? I bet it was amaaaa-zing!
Me: It was! So amazing! The…uh…Galapagos! Yes! And Macchu Picchu! Amazing. South America. It’s amazing.
After we left Korea, I did continue to bow for several weeks; the last lingering traces of our life there. And when we left South America, I found myself carrying my own toilet paper and being pleasantly surprised to find it already in the bathroom. But once the tissues gradually stopped appearing in my bag, so did my intense memories of the continent.
One week back in the US, and it almost felt like I’d been there all along. Now I’ve been back in Australia for nearly a month, and it’s like we never left.
What the heck?
Why do I love travel so much if, apparently, I barely remember it when it’s over? It’s weird, right?
When I really think about it, I can recall the details of our life in Korea. Our months backpacking through South America. My year in New Zealand. That first solo trip to Ireland. And what I come away with is fascination.
I did that? Really?
The weirdest thing about travel is how it sort of becomes a part of you. How you envelop your experiences, fold them into who you are, and keep moving forward with your daily reality. And then, miracle of miracles, you realize that you haven’t forgotten at all. You’ve just absorbed the memories.
It’s really…interesting. Different. And kind of amazing.