Travel: Homeward

Wrapping up a 10-day Can-Asian business trip. Don’t wake me for the in-flight meal.

20130729-153056.jpgAbove Acadia Beach, Pacific Spirit Regional Park, Vancouver

Those movies about travel limbo, or chronic travel — I can’t watch them. Lost In Translation, or the one with Tom Hanks stuck in the airport, or George Clooney as the over-frequent-flyer-miled hatchet man. Too unnerving, too open-ended.

Staying out forever — that’s not travel. It’s rootlessness. To travel, you need to have a place to travel from. And return to. You need to have a home. I have known people, especially the gypsies who make and adjust equipment for professional golfers, who have no address. Their company holds their mail, and they just truck from tournament to tournament, staying with friends over Christmas.

That’s not me. It couldn’t be. Yes, at 52 I get as much thrill from travel, from going-seeing-doing-tasting-savoring, as I did 35 years ago. But coming home is part of the blessed reset, the delicious mellow that emphasizes the sparkling intense.

I get a mindset going: a 10-day ride creates a visceral expectation in me. By Day 8, even though I am enjoying and achieving, I am also itching. My own bed, my own kitchen, my bicycle — my family. I want to get back. If something comes up and I have to extend, I can handle it. But when it’s finally really time to go home, I wanna go.

I start to miss my wife and son and the dog the moment I leave on a trip. The trick is to admit that, accept it, and not let it interfere with the business and discoveries right in front of you. I have gotten pretty good at it. There can be some lonely moments — even interludes — but mostly I manage them.

It’s a good thing, this itch short of homesickness. It seasons the travel, makes the otherness of it something I can’t take for granted. And God willing, I will savor — just as much as the sushi, the bullet train, the British Columbia summer, the time with my Japanese and Canadian colleagues — that magnificent feeling when I open the door, put down my bags, see the smiling faces turn my way, and crouch to receive the whole-body-wagging dog that’s approaching.

Copyright 2013 Adam Barr

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