I love the country. Tonight on my walk to the convenience store down the road to get some “Cha-num” iced tea, I began to wonder if my feelings of travel-weariness a few weeks ago were actually just misinterpreted feelings of “city-weariness.” The sun had already set and the frogs were crowding the silent evening with their sweet chirps. How long has it been since I’ve gone on an evening walk where the frogs out-shine the sound of cars?
Cities are tools when it comes to travel. They have bus stations, English translations, cheap hotels and hostels, restaurants within walking distance, and WiFi. In nearly every place we’ve visited, the further we get from the city, the more challenging language and transport become. For this reason, we have found ourselves in city after city after city. HongKong, Shanghai, Denpasar, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, etc.
Well I am not a city sort per say, though sometimes I contradict that and find myself delighting in a bustling street full of noise and chaos. I remember about two years ago I filled my sketchbook with little lists to help me explore that massive question “Who am I?”. I had lists of favorites, lists of must-do’s and most importantly, a list of needs. I remember very distinctly that I started this list out of the thought that perhaps I would be single forever. It was as though Disney burned to the ground and I was, for the first time, considering the possibility that marriage was not a guarantee for everyone, no matter how much they wanted companionship in life. So, with this new realization donning on me, I started asking myself, “Ok. If I don’t get to have ‘true love’ in my life, what are the most basic things I NEED to be happy, if not love in that form?” This is the kind of question twenty-something hipsters ask themselves while sitting in coffee shops on one of their many off-days from their part-time jobs. Yes. I was in some small way, that person. I remember narrowing that list down from time to time, as I began to see need differently. In its first form, the list contained things like “opportunities to feel beautiful,” and “accessibility to nature and hikes and such.” Then, the list was boiled down even more until finally it simply contained: “Nature, Community, and Art.” This is a very middle-class American list, I now see, but it was mine and it was genuine. And I think that I must have boiled it down pretty accurately, because it still seems consistent to this life I now have. Now I get all those other things I didn’t allow myself to ask for in the final edit of the list, like someone to tell me I’m beautiful when I need to hear it, and a companion for my adventures. But that boiled down list is evident in my need for a walk in the warm evening breeze, pausing to glance upward at the orange moon perched above a chorus of invisible frogs. It’s evident in the long emails I send my friends back home: my community across the ocean. It’s evident in my attempt to avoid the attractions that once were natural and have now been dragged on a course towards “tourist attraction.” It’s evident in our impromptu dip in the waterfall pool in Malaysia and the nights spent sleeping under the stars on the beach.
Which reminds me…I need to update the 100 oddest places to spend the night list.