Sitting on a bench facing Melbourne’s business district on a cold autumn day, something feels wrong. I should be in Fiji right now. Both the water and the sky would have been blue rather than this insipid grey. Am I seriously complaining about something so trivial? Damn right I am! But… it’s not exactly what you think.
Truth is, I have been mourning a very dear friend of mine: travel. Today, for the first time since the world came to a halt, I have gathered the courage to write about this curious phenomenon. Some might cringe or mock me. Let them have it. As for the curious in you, do read on before casting your final judgment.
You entered my life before I could comprehend who you were. It all started with drives to the capital – the fabulous city of Paris – on the weekends to see my grandparents. Then, one day, a flight to the Canary Islands saw me falling head over heels for airplanes. Oh, how lucky was I to grow up in an era when flying had become affordable and easy. And, how lucky was I to be able to make the most of it with my privileged passport and access to quick and cheap flights.
You are missed more than ever before. You are missed more than words can say. You are missed more than chocolate on a diet.
Through you, I learnt so much. From how to dive in the Pacific Ocean to how to paraglide above the Himalayas. From how to make dumplings in China to how to taste wine in Bordeaux. From how to ax wood in Norway to how to bargain in Morocco. You were the school that taught me everything. You taught me that there were more ways to see the world than there were eyes in it. And you showed me that when it came to cultures and beliefs, nothing was right or wrong, true or false, acceptable or not.
You expanded my ways of thinking. You expanded my ways of feeling. You expended my ways of being.
Together, we got lost and, at times, even lost faith in ourselves and in humanity. Remember when we couldn’t find our way through the maze of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul? Remember when a dog attacked us while hiking in Argentina? Remember the time I thought I was going to die in Vietnam? You challenged me to my core and, through my own eyes and those of others, showed me the true meaning of resilience.
Like many, you tried to teach me patience. Cancelled flights, endless traffic jams, queues beyond belief didn’t cut it. Nothing could discourage me from only seeing the wonderful in you. Sends whoever tries to bring you down my way for I will always have your back.
To anyone who ever told me, or anyone else, to find another passion or hobby, it ends NOW. For so many of us, you – travel – were way more than a commodity, a convenience, or a crush. You were the addictive answer to all our problems.
You were a lifestyle. You were a lifeline. You were life.
Can you believe the number of places we discovered together and the number of incredible people we met along the way? You know who you are! 😉 Yet, you always brought me back to base – to my origins and my tribe. I can’t tell you how much I would give right now for
Times are tough for you and I right now but never forget the value that you add to the lives of millions of us around the world. You give us something to dream about and a way to make it come true. Without you my notion of space and time have changed. Nowhere to go. Nothing to look forward to. Yet, there are so many places yet to discover. All I hope for is that they are getting a well-deserved break to heal, breathe, and rejuvenate while humankind chokes.
And, albeit in a different and more conscious way, I look forward to exploring the whole world with you someday. Until then, if you ever feel lonely and abandoned, know that it was never my intention. Please do not forget who you are and how much you mean.
You mean movement. You mean freedom. You mean peace.
Navigating from a city to the next, you saw me break, crumble, and then pieced me back together. In the palm of your hand, I found out more about myself than I ever thought there was to find. In front of the Manneken Pis in Brussels, I laughed so hard I cried. In the bars of London, I drank so much, I passed out. In Japan, I ate so many Maki, I thought I’d turned into a cute little ball of rice. This is what you do. You bring joy like no other, break down barriers and borders, and bring people together.
I am so sad I had to let you go without saying goodbye. I know ‘temporary obituary’ sounds like a contradiction. But it is the most meaningful way I found to describe the heartbreaking reality we’ve found ourselves in. Fact is, the version of you I used to know has passed and might never return. This global health crisis is so deep, so destructive, so unpredictable that it will probably unveil a new – or simply different – way of exploring the world. Just like that, a page has turned. Little did we know this would not only be the end of a chapter but the end of an entire book. As I plunge myself into the words of All That Remains: A Life in Death, I can’t help but wonder… which book will you and I open next?