Looking Back, Moving Forward
Every blogger I know is either Looking Back or Moving Forward. Publishing a fat list of New Year’s Resolutions. Or drawing conclusions about this year that’s coming to an end.
Some others are also complaining about that excess of positive thoughts. Thus, they are writing lists of the worst places one can see this coming year or the lousiest countries visited in the year gone.
I don’t know whether to Look Back or to Move Forward. All I feel today is the need to write.
I will stick to the old school maxim that says Only add the title once you’re done with it, and I’ll move on. I’ll keep writing. Some thoughts at the back of my mind keep tickling me. They come from this year that’s ending. They want to get out, and they invariably lead to the coming year.
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You don’t have to know me well; only a look back gives you some transparent conclusions:
I need Greece
And I need it at least once a year. If I do not touch it, I get this out-of-water fish feeling that leaves me in desperate anxiousness. I need it like air: its language in my ears, its taste on my tongue, its music in my soul. I long for its warmth welcome, its καλημέρα and καλησπέρα. Massive doses of sirtaki, again and again. It’s indispensable for me to renew my vows with this land as if it was a marriage. And when do married people renew they vows? When they are crazy in love.
I expect the unknown
The exotic. The thrill of a long trip to the new. Somewhere dreamed during my childhood, then abandoned because too far. Because we became parents, because it was expensive, because of… many becauses. I must be on the spot where a picture or a book ignited that dream. I have to see that Buddha myself, that Pagoda myself, portrait that Temple with my own lenses. Try a rare dish, taste a new drink, some bizarre habit. I have to come back, close my eyes and be able to whisper I’ve finally been there.
I want the fairytale
Visit that tiny town made of sweet cookie-like houses, and bridges. Enchanted castles, museums and pebble-stone roads one can walk around in just a day. Discover romantic angles and street lamps, pieces of art and memories of antique stories. Art, old libraries, sad cemeteries, silent alleys. Reflections and shadows. Mental travels of introspection with every step on each of these paths. Hot goulash, raw beers and traditional pastries.
I look for change
Change of tasks, of jobs, of people around. A variation of the places I visit, of bars where I sit and write while drinking liters of cappuccino. I need to change my pads and notebooks, my pens, my glasses, my bags. I cannot hold to the same objects. I must break them, lose them and renew them even when I do like them. I hate routine as much as I need it to survive as well, so I also seek for it, therefore…
I undergo routine
I must go to bed late. Always. My routine imposes it. I impose it to myself, everyday. Even when I travel and my plans include an early sunset photo tour of a new city. My worst and yet most loved routine is sleeping less. Late nights are enemies; they do nothing good to my forty-one year old health, skin or brain. The same as coffee, the same as the occasional cigarette. Routines are bad, unhealthy habits. They are glasses of red wine, sleeping pills, poisonous tendencies I cannot get rid of. One thing makes me proud. They are becoming less with time. But they are there. And I live with them.
I demand my daily dose of other bloggers
They feed my soul. Now I’ll add some names, and some others I’ll forget and some of you will be angry, but this is not being mean. It’s just getting old. Getting old is also wanting to write the names of the ones you love. As well as being certain you also love the ones you forget. So yes, I need you, even to just say hi.… I need your encouragement. Your virtual morning smiles which, in full honesty, on some days, do much more than keep me going.
I must have travel exhibitions
And travel related work. This is not something all travel bloggers like. Some have confessed hating all that rushing. Not me… I love last moment rush, ticket and hotel hunting, business card printing. Three-day rushing between stands. Plain black coffee and whatever it is you’re offered (baklava, sandwiches, chocolates). Perennial upset stomach and amazing glossy magazines. Coming back home exhausted, paying excess baggage fees for an overload of travel brochures. A head full of proposals, ideas, e-mails to write, follow-ups to do, reviews to write. Pens, key holders and thousands of gadgets for the kids. All together with the mental vacuum of Now… Where do I start from?
I long for thrill
Sunday afternoon. Boring, sixth coffee drank already. Pieces for the week ready. Photos ready. Let’s just browse around travel websites, credit card at hand, and just see… Where to next? That’s the thrill, the emotion of not knowing where the end of the Sunday is finally taking you, just another pizza on the coach? Or finding that super extra cheap ticket fare that would lands us, X months later, on the other end of the World, just for the sake of the bargain?
London is on the list
I need it as everyday bread. I must land in Gatwick once a year. Or Heathrow. Stansted can do as well. Even Luton. I just need a dose of double-decker ride. Top up my Oyster card, eat fish and chips, see the London eye and drop the emotional tear on a London street. I must breathe the London fog. It’s my cold Greece. And I must have it.
I hate to pack but I need to pack
And I hate that I hate it. I hate to roll, compress, do and undo, choose, unchoose, buy, but then leave home what I bought. Spend months collecting plastic containers, wash them, recycle them, and refill them. I waste time deciding on the perfect travel outfit, yet I always change my mind when is time to leave for the airport. I choose a backpack, then change it for a trolley, later go back to backpack (another one, this time). Add a cross-body bag which fits my iPad but not my computer. So re pack again. All hassles I hate with all my heart. But it’s another need I must fulfill.
I have to travel alone
I need a disconnection from my family. I love my family. I could not live a day if I were to know they are not going to be there when I return. My kids… what mom doesn’t know what I’m talking about? And my partner. Traveling together is the best thing in life. It brings out the best of our couple. Yet, I enjoy the days on my own, at my pace (faster than theirs on some days but not always). My solo travel thrill lasts until hours before boarding. When I realize I’m leaving I start to get sad. The excitement stops for a while, just a few hours. All I have to do is go through security control. Once in destination, I get my nostalgia moments too, most of all at dinner. I don’t enjoy eating alone. And I’m not going to hide it. Sometimes I’ve eaten with a tear or two, or on the phone with the kids. Sometimes I even skipped dinner all together. On the whole, I still try to travel alone a few times a year. It’s healthy for us all.
Studying is like fresh air
I got a Master’s degree this year and it kept me busy, alive and cursing, as usual. Of course. As a friend once said, I resemble a smart phone for my multitasking skills. I’m certain I’ll be going back to school again this year… And every year of my life. Till I die. I know. I just know it.
I need to write
I do. First about my trips, my past adventures and my future plans. I have also discovered I need to get my emotions out. Even when they are not travel related. They kill vital parts of me when they stay in, and I start making mistakes. Big, regretful mistakes. I must say, in one way or another, what I feel and what I think. I’m learning to lose my fears. To lose all that it takes to feel free and let those things out. This is even healthier than traveling alone. But, as odd as it is, and even more often than I may have ever though, they go hand in hand. The more I travel alone, the more I write.