Monday, 5 September 2016

The Consequences of Travelling *UPDATED*

I have the travel bug. I admit it. I place the blame on my parents who sent me to Japan when I was in my late teens. I was pretty much left to my own devices. That journey (which I took oh, so many moons ago), transformed my life in such a profound manner that I can't go back (such a terrible cliché! Apologies!). The impact is such that I've reached a point where I feel that Canada is no longer my home. An alarming admonition to be sure, but true nonetheless. For better or worse, this is a result of travelling...For me, that is. I wouldn't dare presume that others feel this way.

What else is a consequence of travelling? That I've become a truly transient being, a vagabond. Many people assume this to be true, and much worse as well: I can't hold a steady job; I have a fear of commitment; I'm after the money; I'm never satisfied; I'm selfish and don't want to take on responsibility...Shall I go on? That list isn't exhaustive. So assume what you will. I know who I am and the faults that I possess (now THOSE qualities make up quite the list!), and I don't believe that I should ever be satisfied because I know I can do better (better who I am as a person, find a more meaningful job, never settle). I am happy to commit as long as I see the value in it, and not simply financial value. I freely admit that the reason I took my first position in Kuwait was a financially-based one. Someone has to pay for my overpriced education, and that someone must be me :)  But why do I even have to defend my decision to travel for work? No one understands my financial situation better than I do and I'm the one paying my bills.

There is also my family situation. Although I am unmarried, I do have a partner and half of the time we're living in separate corners of the earth due to our jobs. Thankfully, the distance has made us stronger and helped us solidify what we want for our future. It's also really freakin' hard. Then, of course, there are my sister and father. This family dynamic is much more complex because my father has Alzheimer's and my sister and I are currently helping him with...A lot. More than we can handle, if I'm being honest. However, CCAC (http://healthcareathome.ca/) here in London won't offer us any support and we're doing the best we can. We were told that until my father harms himself, or heaven forbid, another person, there's nothing they can do for him. Say what you want about my political views, but when I'm being taxed like mad and my healthcare system can't help me with my father, then that is a sign that Canada's social programs are failing and I'm not going to just accept it. Between me and you (a.k.a. anyone with an internet connection), most days I feel like I'm failing miserably and I have to deal with that, but leaving to work in another country (because I can't find a job in Canada), just makes it worse.

If those are the most unappealing determinates, then I must, too, share the most appealing outcomes of travel, even if it's for work: you meet incredible people and you never stop learning. I don't even feel the need to delve into these points (but I'm going to!). Somewhere deep inside I can empathize and understand people in a way I couldn't prior to living outside of Canada. The experiences I've had overseas have been the most challenging, humbling, exhilarating and rewarding. I would never wish not to know what fresh dates picked right from the tree taste like, or how others view westerners and the western world. I would never wish not to know what it feels like to connect with someone who, on the surface, is so different from me, but deep down, isn't. I would never wish not to know what it feels like to be crammed up against complete strangers on the train during rush hour in Tokyo where I was so out of place and yet never felt like I was so at home. Nor can I forget the smell of the streets after it rains in Paris or the way locals there didn't laugh at my broken French. I can't forget the way I felt in Greece when I woke up the first morning in Monemvasia to brilliantly bright sunshine streaming down on my face, how the stone cobble steps felt under my flip flops and the overwhelming sense of gratefulness that I could be in a place that I'd been dying to visit since I was a child, or how I felt the moment when we sat down to dinner the night before my best friend's wedding. Was it the company, the food, or the fact that complete strangers were dancing with us to celebrate? How could I possibly be happy not knowing?

Even though the Georgian lady and I chat frequently, I miss her terribly. I found a gem! Tbilisi, Georgia
 Seriously the BUSIEST place I've ever been: Shibuya eki (station), the infamous intersection is, at 10pm, still PACKED with people, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
Feeling a bit more like myself, and yet feeling so out of place...The life of a halfie. Ashikaga, Tochigi, Japan
Rainy streets in Montmartre, Paris, France
The bridal party in Monemvasia, Greece

Whether all of this travel is good or bad is irrelevant, and although there is the ability to know too much, to see too much, I hope it's only made me a better person. I have loved each place I've visited for one reason or another and loathed it for one reason or another, but that's simply critical thinking. Even the things that I have strongly disliked about a place have taught me a lesson and actually made my relationship with the Irish chef stronger. I have to credit him with a lot of my recent travel. I couldn't have done it without him and I wouldn't have wanted to do it without him. I think that if you can travel with your partner and not hate each other after the journey is over, then you've found a person worth keeping. I mean, I found him while I was travelling, after all!

The Irish chef and I at the Panathenaic Stadium, Athens, Greece

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