I never expected I’d feel so at home in the desert. Five years ago, when I was applying to college, I was so ready to leave. I never expected I’d long to go back. At the time, I was dreaming of four seasons. I was longing for something other than the eternal hot and hotter sunshine. I wanted to experience more scenic variation. More rain, more snow, more grey days. Rain in the desert always brought more joy to us desert dwellers than any Norwegian could ever understand.
This week, flying across the world from a land of summer to a land of long, dark winters, I asked myself “why do I love traveling?” I can’t say it’s because I like flying. I don’t particularly like airplanes. They're so confined. Airplanes are marvelous inventions but spending hours suspended thousands of feet above ground in a pressurized metal tube is not usually the highlight of my travels. As I boarded the Boeing 777 and walked through the aisle trying to find my seat, I accidentally bumped into a few people. I glanced at those who were already seated in first class, most of whom were much older than me, and I wondered what it would be like to frequently fly first class. Maybe it would feel like lounging on my couch for several hours with the purpose of landing in another metropolis? Instead, tired after a difficult week, I took off my shoes, curled into a ball in my economy window seat and leaned my head against the cabin wall. I tried to sleep — sleeping always makes time pass faster, doesn’t it? — but I never quite got comfortable.
Airports, however, are more alluring to me than airplanes. I spent several hours walking around the airport in London. As I passed the flight monitors, it struck me that airports really are the gateway to any city in the world. With my tired, one-track-mind I was focused on flying to Stavanger. But, I realized everyone has a different destination. Other people were flying to Los Angeles, Quito, Cape Town, Frankfurt, Beijing, Venice. A long layover makes the airport a magnificent place to watch people rush from gate to gate. Have you ever thought about the fact that each of those people has a unique story? They each have a different reason for their journey, they often move about without taking notice of those around them, and they will probably never cross paths with many of those with whom they flew ever again.
After fourteen hours in the air and eight hours in airports, I came to the conclusion that my favorite thing about traveling (and living elsewhere) is that it makes me appreciate what I left behind. Often we take for granted the things we have at our fingertips. Travel gives way to seeing the world from different perspectives, and it breaks up the mundane routines that we create for ourselves. It leads to new experiences, new stories, new adventures, new ideas.
Travel is one of my most favorite things. It makes you miss what you left behind and look forward to what is coming.