That Eat, Pray, Love Bullshit Moment: Reflections After 1 Year As A Nomad

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When people ask me about my travels, the first question is usually what my favorite place has been—that one’s easy to answer. The second one they ask is if I’ve had any major epiphanies. It’s the expectation that I have had some sort of revelation or if I have “found myself”—the Eat, Pray, Love bullshit moment every traveler supposedly has—which gives me pause. I could tell you about my realization while on the Camino de Santiago that happiness can be found at any conceivable moment. I could tell you that Paris really is a city for lovers. I could tell you about my spontaneous decision to explore Morocco with 4 strangers I had just met.

I could also tell you that there have been moments where I didn’t want to be in the place that I was in, but also didn’t want to go home. There’s a great documentary about the late Dutch video artist Bas Jan Ader called Here is Always Somewhere Else, and that constant search for a new home is something I understand. Before I traveled I suffered from a case of wanderlust; contrary to my expectations, the feeling has intensified since I began my journey.

Before I forget—a word about that. Exactly one year ago I boarded a flight from San Diego to Iceland, with a stopover in New York. My brief interlude was long enough for me to hop onto the subway and pay some university friends a visit. I shaved my head the day before and looked a bit like a thug. It’s weird remembering their faces now; as I got in my taxi back to the airport Jane reminded me to be safe and I think I just laughed.

Since then, I haven’t stayed in the same place for longer than a week. As dynamic as my life has been this past year, even my lifestyle of constant change is finally beginning to turn. Over a week has passed since I arrived in Berlin (sorry for being so behind on the blog posts) and I have ten days left. It’s also been about sixty days since I started working as a freelance writer (hire me while I’m still cheap!), and there is the delirious possibility that I could break even on my travel expenses soon. If I have the money to sustain this lifestyle ad infinitum, why bother stopping?

It’s tempting to imagine returning home to reconnect with family and friends and then going back out to explore the world. I don’t feel like I’m in a rush, or that a window of opportunity is closing. I am happy without the strain of a full-time job, the burden of renting (or even worse, owning) an apartment, the suffocating pull of consumerism that comes hand-in-hand with nesting. While I still consider myself to be an introvert, I’ve stepped far beyond my old comfort zone and made friends with strangers, taken a fair amount of lovers, and occasionally enjoyed myself at large social gatherings.

The truth about life is that we are in a constant state of never going back–there are fleeting encounters with strangers on the street, random towns we pass through on our way somewhere else, acquaintances made at parties and never seen again. Being nomadic makes this reality brutally clear–to be moving forward and grasping at something new while letting go of what once was.

And if that’s too melancholic or existential for you, enjoy the slideshow of photos from some of the places I’ve been. You’ve all been wonderful.

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