People are quick to judge. Not everyone can understand why I love to travel, especially with four kids in tow. She must be lost. She can’t settle down. She can’t stay put and just be happy. She must have something to prove.
But I prefer a much more simple explanation.
I travel because I’m addicted to the rush of falling in love, over and over again.
The thrill. The chase. The lying in wait.
Falling in love with a city or a mountain view is like falling in love with someone.
The feeling of being completely alive. Senses fully awakened. Wanting and wanting to be wanted. To be fully engaged.
Unfiltered, raw beauty.
The excitement of being off balance, the ups and downs, acclimating to the unknown.
Falling in love and connecting with consequential strangers, whom you would have never otherwise met but for travel, even if only for a brief moment in your worldly existence.
The barista who sincerely asks how you’re doing, when you’re feeling completely homesick or emotionally lost.
The crossing guard who safely escorts your preschooler across the busy intersection when one hand is burdened with luggage and the other carries an overtired child on your hip.
The mother who stops you on a cobblestone street to confess that her dream is to do exactly what you are doing, but how could she ever dare?
The homeless man on the street who stops rattling his cup, smiles at you, and tells you to save your change and stow it away toward a bright future for your children.
The children who are so eager to play with your children at the playground, though they don’t speak the same language.
The elderly man who makes conversation with you at the gas pump, applauds your courage, and tells you to see the world while you can because his wife would have liked to once, if.
The doorman who high fives your children and wishes you safe travels, wherever they take you next.
The friend back home who texts that she misses you, wishes you would come home yesterday, but knows you were born with wings that must fly and encourages you to soar higher.
When I travel, I fall in love with people–and people I have yet to meet.
Sometimes I fall hard.
I fall in love with places–and places I have yet to see.
Quaint coffee shops. Beautiful yoga studios scented with a musky mix of tea tree oil and lavender. Wooded trails. Campfires. Tired, well worn playgrounds. Stone walls. Broken glass on sidewalks. Pictures on postcards.
And, I fall in love with places in my soul–and spaces within myself that I have yet to discover.
Light onto my imperfections. Truth between my wounds and failings.
My strengths and weaknesses as a woman, as a mother, as one person in a vast world at a particular place and moment in time.
When I travel, I fall in love with myself, often as if I’m meeting myself for the first time.
Again, with every new place, finding something unexpected and brilliantly burning, around every turn.
She travels because she’s addicted to falling in love.
*A version of this essay written by Julie Tower-Pierce originally appeared in 2015 at Some Talk of You & Me.