Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Beware the Chronic and Contagious Travel Bug

“This is the last time, I swear.”
“I just want to finally settle down in one place.”
“It’s time to stop this. You know, grow up.”

My name is Morgan, and these are just a few of the lies I tell myself all the time. You see, I have a problem: I love to travel. Other people spend their money on cars, stereos, houses, clothes, shoes, maybe food. Me? I live in a cardboard box when I’m not abroad.
That may be somewhat of an exaggeration, but not by much. Every time I travel I come home exhausted. All of my clothes are so well worn I throw most of them away. I’ve slept more on airport floors than I have in beds, eaten more meals consisting of bread and whatever local spread is cheapest, and walked more miles to save bus fare than can possibly be healthy.
Each time I come back, I bury my backpack in the closet, throw some domestic goods on top of it, and say to myself and everyone else, “Good riddance. I’m done. I want to be able to eat real food, buy nice things for my house and have a job I like and want to stay in. No more traveling for awhile.”
I’m lying.
I don’t do this purposely. It’s not like I don’t believe myself. I come back and scramble to find a job, any job that will help me pay the bills. I can’t afford to wait for the one I want. Once there, I find myself a cheap place to live after spending at least a week on someone’s couch. I move all my stuff in and set it up like a home, like I’m going to stay.
Within a short amount of time, there’s a positive number in my bank account. It starts to grow, even though I’ve begun to splurge just a little: I start buying vegetables again, or go out to eat every now and then with my friends. I go to the movies. I might even buy some new clothes if they’re on sale. At whatever job I have, I get settled. I start to get to know the people. I develop a routine. And slowly but surely, I begin to hate it.
The change is almost imperceptible. Nevertheless, I become irritated at work, I find my routine mundane, and I can’t bring myself to stay still. I start taking long drives on the weekends, and all of a sudden I decide I spend too much money on food. I cut down to frozen vegetables and Top Ramen. I check my bank account, then airline fares. I start thinking about where I want to go next, and cutting my expenses to a minimum. I rifle through my closet and find my backpack. I look it over and set it back in the closet, but near the front, so it’s the first thing I see when I open the door.
At work, some small thing sets me off, and that’s it! I’m done! I bide my time for just a little while, then I quit, move out of my house, put everything in storage, and I’m gone.
My experience is different than most peoples’ trip abroad because of my traveling style. Nevertheless, no one should ever doubt that I get less of an adventure. In fact, I think I usually get more of one. The people, food and culture I find off the beaten path are usually incredibly interesting, and often hilarious. I expect nothing less in Australia and New Zealand. I also expect that by the end I’ll be ready to come home, eat real food, and have someplace to call my own.
Morgan Fraser is a 2000 graduate of Manson High School. She is a graduate of Washington State University with degrees in Spanish and print journalism and has lived in Spain, Mexico and Germany and traveled extensively. Her adventures in Australia and New Zealand will be published in the Mirror as they become available.

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