With a ticket in-hand…

by leahplotz

Remember how in 2013 I made it to 13 new places? I find myself daydreaming, wondering if I can do it again…

I’ve already five “new” places this year anyway: Melbourne, Queesntown, Adelaide, Sunshine Coast, and Tasmania. Sydney is coming up and who knows what ideas I’ll think up come November. Although, I don’t think there is enough land in this corner of the world to achieve much more before year’s end.

I get a lot of comments about my travel tendencies. Me, staying put in one place for a year!? When I signed my lease for one year upon arrival, I wondered how I could make sure I stayed there the whole year without moving. So what is it about this nomadic life that is so attractive to me? For me it is not so much about transient life or settling somewhere, really. I run from nothing. It is about learning, and the passionate desire to keep doing so in my own way. Travelling, meeting new people, hearing their stories…it’s how I learn.

I came to Australia because I needed to.

The need to feel the stories that my dad had told me as a child was a strong one, and I wanted to meld my own stories from them. I also felt pulled and knew at the core why: what my definition of “Home” is. There are so many answers to choose from. I needed to figure out how much is in my heart, and how much is my surroundings and community, and how much is my mama’s Sunday roast.

What I have learned so far is that travel transforms my definition of Home into an internal place. With each plane I board, I fly a little higher, and Home sits a little deeper. Sure, travel enhances our senses, constantly throwing stimuli at our memory. Our comfort zones are pushed and our humility embraced. We are nervous and excited and lost and confused. The less we plan, the more vulnerable we are to our surroundings.

When we travel, we oddly become more in-tune with Home, and the concept is magnetizing. An old friend of mine from Texas recently spent a mere six weeks in Oslo, researching and exploring. She has been speaking Norwegian since her youth and is truly passionate for Everything Norway. So when she got a painful homesickness while in Norway, she was able to acknowledge this and respect it. She didn’t blame Norway for not fitting her idea of it; Not many people can do that. Everything about her experience was simply too different: expensive, snow-capped, and, well, Norwegian.  When she landed back home in Texas, she kissed the ground.

I don’t have six more tickets in-hand to mark a substantial quantity of new places in 2014. This year it is about quality. I have gotten to know a new culture, with its faults and surprises and hidden bits of joy. I have settled for one year in a new place where I knew just two people when I landed. I itch constantly to have that ticket in-hand, to be on the next plane out, but my state of mind when I hold that ticket has changed, and it is freeing!

So, when I call my brother and he answers with “What country are you in now?”, I do smirk a little at the reputation. In my defense, it just happens that way. I will always be traveling. Sick or healthy, poor or…ok I’ve always been poor. I crave the stimuli, the sand, the weird food, and the weirder birds. My colitis gets in the way sometimes, but then I enjoy the peace just that extra bit more. It was a bit edgy being stopped in Dubai for having cortisone on me. I was questioned thoroughly, and eventually sent through with a stern warning. I have paid the price for some countries and pushing myself too far. But I learned, I guess, even though I might do it again, hehe.

Life is not a ticket to the airport. It’s what you learn via that ticket. I always carry home in my heart, and since Jenn gave me an Iowan necklace with a heart attached, I carry it around my neck often, opening myself to learn and love wholeheartedly. Happy travels!!