“You go away for a long time and return a different person -- you never come all the way back.”
― Paul Theroux
We rarely traveled far when I was growing up. We were a large family -- 5 kids-- and didn't really have the funds to go on long vacations, or any vacations. We went to the beach occasionally, we drove up to the Gold Country in the Sierra foothills (we lived in the Bay Area), that was about it. It was a major event when, at age 12, my mom and dad and I drove down to Anaheim over Christmas to spend the holiday at Disneyland. It was such a major event my mom had a psychotic break and a doctor had to come to the Travelodge and inject her with an anti-psychotic so she'd top seeing giant shrieking lizard heads crashing out of the wall. My dad sent me to the Magic Kingdom by myself the following day, but I stayed off the spinning teacup ride where things had started to go to pieces for mom the day before. Going to pieces a little, in a good way, a manageable way, is one of travel's best aspects. One goes somewhat mad, right? -- like Alice did when she tumbled down the rabbit hole. The disorientation is invigorating. One is reinvented by searching, finding the way, discovering, exploring, not knowing, learning, yearning, falling in love with places, people (and in my case), a person. The new gives us new life, meaning, restores our sense of wonder. We get scared, seek protection, find friends and comfort. See other worlds, hear unfamiliar sounds, smell unfamiliar aromas, eat new flavors, develop new hungers. We change and, as Theroux, observed, never come all the way back. As it should be, no? Like snails, we should leave a trail that maps our movement through the world.