“One evening I had a new feeling, so beautiful I wished I could lose myself. For the first time I saw the splendor of that square. Suddenly I realized I hate traveling because it’s all looking and running away. Instead, I love living in a place, observing it from within…” –Nicola Piovani, Oscar-winning composer
There are quotes around “home” because after this trip, the word has a different meaning for me. I was gone almost a month and a half, with all but one week spent in apartments, living like a local—grocery shopping, taking the metro to school, going to dinner parties.
The owner of the fruit and vegetable stand in Lago di Garda knew me by name. (So did the owner of the gelato shop, but beyond that, I’m taking the fifth.) I became a regular at a gym in Barcelona. I saw new friends often enough that our conversations went beyond the superficial. In short, I felt at home.
This is both the blessing and curse of being a frequent if not perpetual traveler. You learn to put down roots wherever you are, feeling more comfortable more quickly in foreign locations.
That also means, as I’ve discovered, “home” doesn’t feel like home anymore. I’m not talking about missing the unique aspects of the places you’ve journeyed to, although that does happen: already I’m pining for regional cheese and wine, individual-owned stores that can be walked to, people who use their phones more for talking than texting (and neither at the dinner table).
I’m talking about feeling like a bit of a foreigner in my homeland. I see my fellow Americans through the lens of a visitor as well as that of a native. I’m a bit surprised at hearing unaccented English, seeing so many baseball hats and fast food restaurants. I’m pleased to notice Americans’ warmth toward strangers, whether it’s a smile or friendly remark.
We leave again in four weeks. It will be interesting to see how much traveling “over there” feels like, well, coming home.
To those of you who followed our travels, your comments, likes, and shares are most appreciated. Thank you!
I am especially grateful to those of you who supported the release of FAKE, the first novel in my Finn Teller corporate spy mystery series. If you like my travel posts, I think you’ll enjoy the book. (The kindle version is $2.99; it’s available in paperback, too.)
If you’ve become a fan of Finn, here’s some good news: EXIT, the second book in the series, will be released TOMORROW. It’s set in Greece, one of my favorite places to visit.
Until then, bon voyage, wherever you may go–