When I travel, I fall in love. I don’t mean a let’s get to know each other and see what happens kind of love. I mean a let’s spend every minute of the rest of our lives together or my heart will shrivel up and die kind of love.
Is that unhealthy?
The answer doesn’t really matter. This is how I am, and the places I visit don’t seem to mind.
As expected, Hawaii was no exception to this emotional habit of mine. I loved everything about this place, except for the ridiculous price of gas and groceries. $4.86 a gallon for gas? And $10 a gallon for milk?!! Talk about culture shock from the Midwest!
There I was, surrounded by sunshine and ocean and volcanoes and rainforest. In other words, heaven. Two weeks in this heaven was not long enough. I only discovered 3/4 of the coast and not nearly enough of the interior. I found myself contemplating leaving behind all my belongings back at my southern resort and instead spending my last day in Hawaii exploring the northern coast before meeting my plane to the west. I realized that was not practical, and drove home with a heavy heart and a promise to return. Heartbreak.
This feeling was not unfamiliar. I visited New York City last April. It wasn’t on my short-list of places to travel, but it was on the long-term list. The opportunity arose and I accepted with a little trepidation. For a small-town girl, I feel quite comfortable in large cities. This city, however, is more than large. It’s LARGE. I arrived and managed to successfully navigate the airport. That was no small feat. From there it actually got easier. Most everything was in walking distance from my hotel. If it wasn’t, a cab was always waiting for me when my feet were too tired to go on. Museums were practically on every corner. It was an art lover’s dream. There were people, so many people, and they were all different and they were all the same. There was culture, there was history, there was life. And there was food! I saw myself living in a tiny Manhattan apartment high above the street, soaking in every moment of this vibrant city. I was in love.
The following month I made my first visit to Washington, a state I’ve known for decades that I would love. My intuition was spot-on. I road the ferries, I drove across two islands, I visited Canada solely for the sake of a geocache. I discovered Deception Pass on a beautiful morning completely by accident when the fog had cleared and I could see mountains looming above the clouds and the ocean deep and blue in front of it. I felt a peace so immense that death could not have shaken me. I was in love.
This is not to say that these intense feelings are fleeting. On the contrary. I still feel that same sense of urgency to spend my days studying the brush strokes of an original Van Gogh, hiking Mount Rainier, and losing myself in the maze of a lava tube. I imagine the next place I visit will also take a firm grasp of my heart and beg me to stay. And part of me will stay, just as a part of me will forever be at the top of Mauna Kea, meditating on the sun setting behind the clouds below me.