I’ve just said goodbye to one of my kids. As I write this, a plane carries her far away from her Dad and me. She’s up there, eating a meal, reading a book, watching a movie, oblivious to everything that is happening here, her home.
Is this part of the attraction of travel? That sense you are rising above everything; the hassle that life has become in this century? All the memories you don’t want to be reminded of? You are up there, where the air is rarefied, as the song says. Does it make you think you have escaped and are free and master of your own universe?
Of course, sitting in a long metal tube, strapped in a tourist seat with only enough leg room to grow a nice blood clot, you are anything but free. And when you arrive at your destination, full of naïve optimism, you quickly see that all those expectations of this new place are as fluffy as the clouds you flew through to get there. The same problems and hassles pop up everywhere. People too, are pretty much the same wherever you go, with the same issues as the people you left behind. If your stay is long-term, you still have to find a place to stay that isn’t on someone’s sofa, get a job to enable you to eat and register for health care (and pay for it, without the good old NHS). It’s pretty much just a different version of what you had, even if you are living in a tent with a tribe of South American indigenous people. (I hear even they have access to wi-fi now).
I concede that the desire to travel is a good one. I did it and loved every minute. We humans are naturally nosey. We want to see what’s going on over the horizon. We are thirsty for new experiences, for new relationships. But balancing what you are leaving behind, the value you put on your relationships in the circle of friends and loved ones you have said goodbye to, with the new world you find yourself in, can throw up all sorts of doubts and questions, once the dust has settled and you begin to embark on your shiny new life.
Keeping a sense of perspective is important. The word home takes on a whole new meaning. You make a home in your new country; you have a home in your birth country and it’s a place that will always warmly welcome you back, if you find that the streets over there are not paved with gold.
Long term relationships are just that; long term. They take a long time to establish and cement. Setting up a new life in a new country takes courage because it will take strength to lock out your past and focus on the future. It will be difficult to relinquish the ties that bound you to the people who love you unconditionally; parents and family.