I like to write stories and I like to write stories about things I have done or seen, so it makes sense that I really love to travel. When I was younger I was so nervous about being uncomfortable, and I was so uncomfortable in my own skin, that I felt that it was an impossibilty to ever really get very far away from my home town. I grew up in upstate NY (I’m practically Canadian we’re so far north), so my youthful travels were mainly to Canada and nearby cities for concerts and camping. My parents had traveled extensively during their lives, as my father was in the Air Force, but I never had the travel bug. Maybe because I spent so much time as a small child moving around the world (I was born in Germany, then we lived in Cornwall, New Mexico, and then NY and in between all those moves my parents loved to go visit different places in Europe….camping with a 6 month old!?!), I never wanted to go anywhere that wasn’t absolutely familar. I didn’t even like to throw things out or rearrange furniture in my room because when things changed it made me very nervous.
So I think everyone was really shocked when I suddenly packed up my bags and moved to Scotland. And then didn’t freak out. And then didn’t come back. I’d taken a holiday there with an ex boyfriend a year before I moved there and trust me, I would have never gone that first time without him: I needed him to hold my hand and be the outgoing one. But for some reason, once I got there, once I saw that I could explore things on my own and make friends on my own, everything changed. When my white skirt got covered in mud on the first day during a hike in the highlands, I just laughed it off and washed it out in the sink later that night. (For all my friends from Scotland, this was my first night in Stromeferry in Gordon’s house!). And by the time I got home, I was different, although I didn’t notice it at all yet.
I haven’t travelled as much as I wish I have; if I had an infinite amount of money (or a lovely trustfund), I’d be all over the place, every day. I also still retain a big part of that childhood need for comfort: I much prefer to live in a place then just visit it. So, when you spend years living in a place, it does cut down travel time…
But this summer I am terribly excited that I have been planning on taking the Orient Express from London to Istanbul and stopping in a lot of places in between, like Brussels, Paris, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary. If I don’t run out of money, Italy and Greece are on the list too. You can do the whole train trip in about a week, but I plan on doing stop-overs in a lot of cities and spending a month on the whole trip. A month could be a long time, and I thought to myself that I needed to find a travel companion, but it dawned on me as people looked over their work schedules with a furrowed brow that I certainly wouldn’t mind going it alone.
Because traveling alone means I can talk to anyone at anytime, write in my notebook without seeming rude, wear the same dress for five days in a row, and not have to visit anything I don’t want to see or, worse, miss out on something I want to see. Also, for some reason, whenever I am with someone else, I get almost nervous, like I won’t be doing things just the way they want them to be done, and then I mess up a bit. But when I am on my own, I hardly ever get lost (or if I do, I can usually resolve it pretty quickly), and I’m less stressed. If things aren’t perfect, I only have myself to worry about and that eases my worries.
Being the terrible girl I am, I did wonder how I would manage to survive a month on a train with limited luggage. I had already decided that the only bag I am bringing is my rucksack. And EVERYTHING must fit in it. So I was all productive (dorky) today and made a polyvore set. honestly, I’m beginning to learn the art of packing light. It’s taken years and the realization that if I really love an item of clothing I will want to wear only that, no matter what. So, if I only pack one dress that I really love, I’m good to go and that saves so much packing room. Another reason to travel alone: freedom to admit that changing your clothes every day is totally over-rated and not nearly as important as the story you are going to get out of the adventure.
And now, to bastardize my hero Ernest Hemingway:
If you are lucky enough to have lived in Scotland as a young woman, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Scotland is a moveable feast.
Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.
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