The Traveller’s Sacrifice
I just missed another friend’s wedding. A friend I have known since the age of 10. She sent me the invite months ago.
Absolutely no pressure if you’re not, but do you think you’ll be in Australia in June? We have booked the date and I would love you to be there.
When she asked, I didn’t even know where I was spending the next two weeks, let alone what country I would be in six months from now. So I had no choice but to decline.
This is a pretty regular occurrence when you are often jumping from one country to the next. Weddings, birthdays, baby showers. But as I dive shipwrecks in Egypt and hike mountains in New Zealand, I look around and, I’ll be honest, I am not thinking of Kellie’s 25th that I clicked can’t attend on the Facebook invite.
Sometimes though, constantly being on the road can be a bit of a lonely existence.
Don’t get me wrong. I have made friends all over the world. There are many people whom I spent just a few days with in some foreign country that I still consider close friends today thanks to that wonderful thing called the internet coupled with the relative ease of international travel when you come from a country of first-world privilege.
But when you are not there for event after event, there is only so much that Skype and Facebook messages can do. The distance and time definitely taking a toll on the strong bond you once shared with travel friends and high school friends alike.
Romantic relationships are difficult for the same reason. When you’re doing long distance, eventually, all that chemistry is forgotten. I speak from experience. And when you don’t know your own future plans, how do you add another person’s into the mix? You meet someone you like. You end up dating. You stay long enough to build a routine – a life with the person. Then you get restless. Your feet begin to again tingle with that familiar travel itch. So you eventually tell them it is goodbye. Because you choose travel every single time.
While your friends from your hometown progress in their career and save for houses, you work three-month contracts until you’ve saved enough for your next plane ticket. The idea of me ever owning a home is currently laughable. Sometimes, I find myself tempted by cute trinkets but then reality kicks in. Where am I going to put a lamp?
These things can get to a person sometimes. As I prepare to again re-home myself, this time a 30-hour flight and $2000 dollar plane ticket away from my hometown, I say my farewells to the friends I’ve known since I was young. And I do feel sad, not only from saying goodbye, but also to forgoing the possibility of a life here. One with more stability. A job with possible promotions, a boyfriend to come home to and maybe even a cat.
That sadness is quickly replaced, though, by pure excitement when I’ve pressed purchase on a plane ticket. I’ve tried many things in my life to get that same high, from jogging to cocaine. But, truth is, nothing makes my heart pound harder than that confirmation of a trip to a foreign land. This is even though I know next time I set my feet on my home country again, my friends’ lives will have continued on without me, probably with more weddings and even a few babies.
But I have accepted this. I will continue to send my congratulations while I book that next trip. One day I will be ready to “settle down”, but not quite yet. Because when I look back on the experiences from travel – for me, at least – it’s a worthy trade-off.
Cover by Erik Odiin