I love routine.
I love routine so much that I often have to remind myself that it’s okay to break away from it and make each day unique. I love daily walks with my dog and coming home to my own apartment. I love getting up at the same time every day and knowing which days are gym days. I love doing dishes.
I love to travel.
Travel does not fit in with my love for routine. Travel doesn’t allow for a daily routine, the same bed each night, same friends, or even the same time zone.
Yet, I love them both.
I recently came home from Europe and had a friend visit. She asked how it felt to be home.
I’m not… super happy.
I said this and promptly burst into tears. I hadn’t been feeling particularly sad at the moment and I didn’t realize I was going to start crying until it happened.
But it happened.
Since then, I’ve settled back into my routine and I can honestly say that I’m happy. Super happy, even! I’m back to work teaching fitness classes. I’m hosting gatherings for my friends and running into someone I know at least once a day. I’m finding new walking trails with my dog where I can take in the beauty of my home province. At the end of every beautiful and productive day I collapse onto my bed with a smile, ready to start again.
But no matter how happy I am at home there’s still something missing and it’s hard to talk about. It’s hard because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I don’t want my friends to think that I just pass my free time with them when it’s convenient. I don’t want my family to think I’m trying to get away from them. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m always running away from something.
I’m not running away from something. I’m running towards more.
Since I work on my computer all day, chatting with travel bloggers and doing research for various work projects, the internet has hacked into my brain (because the internet is creepy like that) and continuously shows me pictures and posts of the places I love the most; mainly Prague, so it’s constantly in front of my face and on my mind.
After arriving back home, I was having dinner with my parents and immediately brought up my plans to go back to Europe, my plan to be away (again) for Christmas, and my long term plan to eventually get rid of the apartment I love so much in PEI and move abroad. Being the most understanding and supportive parents that one could ever imagine, they asked a few questions and promised to help me with logistics, paperwork, and planning. My Dad asked the one question that I’m sure everyone who knows me has wondered: Why? What’s so special about it? Why do you love Europe so much?
It’s Not My Family
I was brought up in a stable family with stable parents who had stable careers. My brother has always been a true friend. I have Sunday suppers with all my aunts and their kids and visit Nan for a glass of wine (and, if I’m lucky, homemade jam!). The whole family camps together every summer where we break out the guitars during bonfires and have singalongs with great aunts and uncles, second cousins once removed (etc etc), and family friends that have been around for decades.
It’s not you, family; It’s me.
It’s Not My Friends
I’ve made friends on the road, as all travelers do, and I consider them to be significant people in my life. My friends from home, though, have been there through everything. They were there through every break up (and believe me, there’s been plenty), supported me through every new career choice (also happened quite often), and are there to talk me down from coming home early every time I have an off day abroad and am missing the comfort of my apartment where I can do my dishes in peace.
It’s not you, friends; It’s me.
It’s Not My Country Or My Home Town
I’m Canadian and I grew up in PEI. I don’t have much to complain about.
Seriously. Look at it!
It’s not you, Canada; It’s me.
So what is it? If I love my friends, my family, my country, and my perfectly organized bookshelf so much, why is it so hard to come home?
I’ve changed apartments over 15 times. I’ve changed my ‘career path’ on a monthly basis and after getting a diploma and completing a few other programs, I registered and dropped out of school a few times. I can’t decide what my favorite color is (which is a really big deal), and I hate pickles, but you know what? I ate a pickle last month.
I get bored . I get restless. I want more.
I love Europe for it’s charm. I love the people with their relaxed lifestyles, no-nonsense (sometimes brutal, but I’m learning to accept it) honesty, and the way they all seem to have a passion for their own country and the history behind it.
I love the people watching culture, the way that drinking alcohol is accepted and enjoyed without being the glorified hot mess that it is in the west. I love the old buildings, the castles, and the raw emotional history that is paved into every street.
I love that I can visit so many different countries and cities with their own unique essence and history without traveling far or spending all of my loonies and toonies. I love the options that Europe gives me; The ability to have my safe, comfortable routine for as long as I desire and the freedom to uproot and throw myself into a new place and new experiences with little notice or effort.
How Do I Deal With It?
I look forward to the next trip. I’m looking forward to my first European Christmas market and ringing in the New Year in Prague. I check flight prices daily and then (usually) end up spending way too much on a spur of the moment ticket. I keep a map on my wall and my options open.
I take comfort in the little things. I tell my friends how much I appreciate them during a fit of our giggles and I kiss my new baby cousin on the nose. I explore new parts of my hometown that I’ve never seen and talk to old friends I run into at the pub. My heart is my roots and my mind is the wind.
Do you struggle with balancing a home life and a travel life? How do you do it?