I sit in the dentist’s office, waiting for a cleaning of teeth, teeth that have chomped their way through Europe and back to the United States. On the wall of the waiting room, a large map of the world stares back at me. What great decorating on my dentist’s part, transport your future patients around the world, distract them from the inevitable waiting behind a shutter-like door.
Still figuring out my travel plans for the next few months, I start to examine where I have been on this map. I realize the portion of the world I have seen is very small, causing me to drum up plans of my next great adventure.
Part of the travel process involves recovery. For me, coming home was key toward that recovery. The mind must jog through what you have seen and experienced and take a break to rest. Now that I have been home for a month, I have recovered. I am ready to hit the road. My only problem remains. I don’t know what road and even my dentist’s office reminds me of that fact.
For my European summer, I knew I wanted to head to Italy. There was no question or hesitation. I was going to Italy and that was that. Once I arrived back home, I felt this weight on my shoulders. Where will I go next? I had questions of the like from all areas of my life. Suzy, you have to keep moving, I thought. My only problem, I didn’t know where.
I think most of us take for granted knowing where we want to travel to next. We spend so much time and energy pouring ourselves into a trip, when we come home, there is often that blankness. My mind went blank. Australia? New Zealand? South America? Ireland? All of these places entered my blank mind, swirling about in a torturous game of musical chairs. Still, I did not know where to go. I don’t think I am alone in my thinking. Being inspired to travel somewhere is one of the first steps to travel. You can’t get going if you don’t know where you are going and don’t know why you want to go.
A light bulb switched on and I found my road. My decision came down to one conversation I had with an Italian man. I started talking about Sicily and Sardinia, asking this Florentine if he had been. The farthest south this man had been was Naples. A country I had seen almost completely, nearly every region, a native had only barely covered. Before judging his lack of travel throughout his own country, I started to judge my own. The United States is massive, filled with diversity in people, landscape and culture more travelers need to explore but usually leave behind in the dust cascading off of their backpack.
I guess I feel I have reached that stage of travel, the stage were you are hungry to know about your backyard and take a break from the backyards of those oceans away. The lessons to be learned in one’s own country are great. So I will begin my next few months of travel throughout the United States. Love your city? Dying for a visitor to the middle of nowhere USA? Let me know. I just may pop up in your backyard, but not in a creepy way.
I keep looking at that map, hoping I will make it where I imagine going, far away from this office, but for now it is time to face the inevitable. “Suzy, will you come on back?”
How do you decide where to go when you don’t know where to go? What do you like about traveling throughout your own country?