I picture my addiction meeting to go something like this:
“Hello, my name is Matt and it’s been 50 days since I last traveled somewhere. Every day gets a little harder than the last. I’ve almost booked a flight three times this week. I think next time I’ll hit the buy button.” Around me, the other travel addicts in the room nod knowingly. They feel my pain. And then, at the mention of flights, they all take out their iPhone and check prices to their favorite destination. They almost hit buy too. We all sigh. We former nomads aren’t going anywhere, at least not right now.
I’ve been back in the States for seven weeks now. During that time, I’ve been fulfilling my dream of spending a summer in New York City. It’s not permanent. In September, I leave for Boston and then to Canada, where my nomadic life begins anew.
In a sense, I guess I’m still nomadic. If a nomad is one without permanent roots, then I am still a nomad. New York is only my temporary oasis, the place where I restock supplies for my next journey.
Yet every morning, I wake up in my sublet apartment, cook breakfast in my kitchen, and then take a shower in a bathroom not shared with other strangers. My fridge is stocked with food. I belong to the gym. I am taking French classes (and using Benny’s language guide too!). I have a routine. I’m a regular at the café down the street. I’m settled. I feel settled. And that unsettles me.
I’m having a great time in New York City. It’s been amazing. It’s been productive. It’s been a dream. I’ve made new friends and reconnected with old ones. Yet I’m not used to being in one place for so long, and I’m not coping well with it.
Going from being always on the move to staying put has been a harder adjustment than I thought. True, I’ve discovered something new every day here in the city. New York has a lot to see and do. My days are full. But when you are used to changing locations every few days or weeks, suddenly putting the brakes on can send you through the proverbial windshield.
I don’t know what it’s like to be still. For me, moving is living. The longer I’m here, the worse my itchy feet get. My feet….my soul…desires movement. I like the thrill of the road. What everyone hates about travel, I love. I love airports, and finding my way, and hotels, buses, packing and unpacking. In a way, I’m getting bored. Not bored of New York but bored of being in one place. I remember when I first came back from my trip in 2008. I was ready to leave within weeks. Life in one place felt stagnant. New York is never stagnant. But I miss the act of travel.
Being here, in one place, has been a hard adjustment. When you are always on the move, you get used to it. It becomes comforting. Your lifestyle. I’m at ease in hostels. I love making my way through the airport. That life is what I know. Now, I feel out of my element. I think about how I’m still in one place. I dream of moving from place to place. I think of how I can get my travel fix. What if I just fly to Bermuda for a few days? It’s not that far. JetBlue has cheap flights.
Coming home requires a lot of adjustment. Changing your lifestyle even more. That’s what seven weeks feels to me: a lifestyle adjustment. Now I’m sitting in my apartment, waiting for my dinner to cook, and I begin to wonder, if I ever do settle down, if I ever do become only semi-nomadic, how will I cope then? If being in one place for seven weeks is difficult, what about moving somewhere? If I balk at the idea of a sublet, what about when it’s my name on the lease? But in these thoughts, I realize I’m not done with the road yet. Or maybe, it’s the road that is not done with me.