Chapter Eleven – On The Road

by Christine Wild

All I really have to tell are stories of sex, alcohol, questioning and travel. Maybe some are about love, but I know very little about love. This one is about travel. If you ever have the chance to pack up your shit and leave, for the purpose of discovery not flight, do it. Do it, do it, do it. There is nothing quite like being on your own, on an unknown side of the planet, watching yourself having the time of your life, as if through an external camera shot. Did that really happen to me? Some memories remain in my heart with something of a foreign quality to them, not quite mine. I feel that travelling does that. Every time I say: “when I was living in Argentina,” I feel that way. The memory enters a deeper, less conscious part of my brain and lives untouched until something new and specific jolts it back to life. It never becomes quite as clear as it was. The words are lost, the names and precise places are irrelevant. Colors and smells stay. Feelings, emotions never leave me. They are the stepping-stones to the creation of the being that I am now, in even the slightest of ways.

Before my big gap year around the world I felt that wanderlust. I had itchy feet. After the trip, I was addicted. I never quite understand how people are satisfied with settling, or being settled. I can never comprehend for the first little while home, how people have stagnated, whilst I was off adventuring. At first I felt privileged, to having been given the opportunity to explore, which lead me to feel sad for the people who could not afford to. Later I started to feel that it was almost somewhat of a duty, to force yourself to exit your comfort zone to discover who you can truly be. I am still conflicted between the humility demanded of my lucky situation and my anger towards the people that I feel, are just being lazy. I understand it is not something anyone can just do, pick up and leave. Yet I still feel frustrated with people who do not even try. I think it is something that some people maybe are. Some people are sedentary, others vagabonds. Others are something other still.

My wanders seem to have harmed me in ways that improved me. I am not sure this makes any sense to you so I am going to try to explain myself. I have come to realize a certain pattern between my unhappy love life and my exhilarating life as a person- the single unit. I think I am addicted to intensity. This leads me to try and surpass myself time and time again, pushing my boundaries and self-reflecting on their mere existence. However it shows to be harmful in that I lack some sort of patience nowadays. Things have to be all or nothing, or I lose interest very quickly. I think this is a by-product of the life on the road. In that life, you have to make split-second decisions, judgment calls that you stick to. You can be wrong or right, you always know where the choice came from. When you enter a dark alleyway, or follow a complete stranger to a remote place, you never have the time to make an informed decision. You follow your gut. I think that is partly why I find it hard to relate to sedentary people who stick to the safety of their comfort zones. Luckily, my gut most often led me to incredibly wonderful experiences. A few times I was disappointed, but fortunately for now, nothing bad ever happened to me.

Coming home again can therefore also be very unsettling. It feels foreign, same but different. Everything looks just as you left it, but it feels different, as if it had been moved just a couple of inches, when most often it is only me that has changed. I have known many people who confessed to having that same feeling upon coming home, time and time again. It raises the question of what actually changes in your self, whilst travelling. I think a lot of it is linked to that different part of your brain that you activated on the road. Now the settlers are maybe incapable of such thinking and hence sedentary. Maybe not everyone is capable of following their gut, or knows no such feeling, and so they are terrified of the idea of relying on it. I think it is a bit of both. I am good at travelling and connecting because I travelled, and I travelled because I am good at those things. I need the human connection in a way that not everyone does. I think you also need to not be afraid of wasting time, which goes so unnaturally with our current values’ system.

There is a very deep and important concept in my culture called Sudbina. It is, if you will, destiny. Not the kind of pre-destined religious crap people use to absolve themselves of guilt. It is the kind that leads you to where you are, no matter how slim the chances were. When something incredulous happens, often tied to impossible timing, you blame or thank sudbina. There is some sort of reason for your experiencing this precise occurrence and you are supposed to learn the moral some day, if not immediately. I like that concept. It helps me when I fuck up. See if I get on the wrong bus, or get lost, and lose a lot of our oh-so-precious time, I think to myself: Well there was something on the “right” path that was not “right” for me to experience today. It gives me comfort, and I lose my temper just a little bit less. I try to do that with failed relationships, unfortunately it does not hold up so well against the pit-bull inside me.

Anyhow sudbina and the gut feeling could appear to be contradictory. I disagree. I think they are both coping mechanisms for a life that can appear or feel senseless. But that life is so full of magic that you just need to stop and look at it. That day on that boat looking over the river, that day making love in that car in the middle of a field with a complete stranger, that day when he hugged me and I could not breathe by myself any longer, that day driving that boat as fast as it could go… All of those memories do not serve a “purpose” per se. I cannot put them on my resume. They led me nowhere further then that moment. That is what is magical about them. They are their own riches. My riches. Forever the things I did that made me feel that I was doing the most I could out of life, and I was exactly where I was meant to be.