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Not All Those Who Wander....

I am drowning in nervousness about travelling.

I enjoy travelling, enjoy the rush of seeing someplace new, or going someplace old and seeing it again. I'm excited about going back to London, even if all I'm going to do is see a musical and buy my favourite chai in bulk, and spend a delightful afternoon in Sarah's company. I'm counting down the hours till I get to Halifax and finally see it when the city isn't encased in ice, planning walks along the harbour and trips out to lighthouses. I'm even planning, planning, planning every meal I'll have in Edmonton, every favourite street I'll walk down. Through it all, Poland whispers and Spain hisses promises and I'm numbering all the things I want to do and trying to make it all realistic with what I can do. Every day is about where I'll be and what I'll do and when it all will happen, and it's beautiful.

I'm afraid of things, though - of flying, as always; of seeing people and things being awkward and nervous; of luggage going missing and pockets being picked. I have recurrent nightmares that I miss flights, miss connections, miss people, and everything goes all wrong in those moments that we let them.

People assume that my wanting to travel means I want to run away from something, that I'm hiding in new cities with new histories. Don tells me I'm searching for something, and when I find it I'll settle down, grow a garden, get a cat.

I'll tell you that I travel because not travelling feels like giving in to fear.

Every day I'm afraid that if I move away from my comfort zone, if I assume that I deserve something other than being bored, I will spend my life alone and miserable. My father tells me so often not to settle for unhappiness - to leave men who make me sad all the time, to leave jobs that make me bored or angry, to leave friendships that break my heart. He tells me to stop selling myself so short, to look for things that challenge or excite me, things that just make me happy. I spent most of my 20s ignoring that advice, and spent most of my 20s being unhappy because of it. I stayed in once place even though I longed to leave, stuck it out at jobs that made me dread waking up Monday mornings, and stayed in relationships that left me grieving before they were finished. I was afraid, you see, that there would be nothing better, that the next step would be worse. The next job would be even more terrible, and pay less; the next city would leave me friendless and alone.

I travel because I can't live like that anymore.

In less than a week I'll fly out to London for a couple of days, to Halifax for a week, to Edmonton for a few days after that, and then off to Poland to see a church made of bones. I'll soak up the heat in Spain, drinking sangria and teasing Don about Australia. And after that, I'll come back here, to Perth, to my tiny flat and my sweet and wonderful friends, and make my plans for my last six months in Australia.

I've planned it all out. I'm going to have a marvellous time.

Not all those who wander are lost.


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