#006 Seeking New Lands and Seeing With New Eyes (Intro to Travel Series)
Was Marcel Proust right about travel?
Over the weekend, my husband, Adam, and I went for a hike, and he asked me if I thought our cat, Dylan, would like to hike with us.
“Cats don’t like to hike. They’re not built for that sort of thing. Humans are the only animals that like to walk long distances,” I said.
“What about horses?” Adam asked.
“Maybe horses, but I think humans are the only ones who’ve looked at a mountain and said, ‘I want to go to the other side of that.’”
The human body is fine-tuned for traveling long distances on foot, which I love, because most of the time, we don’t think of our physical selves as fine-tuned for anything but sitting in front of a screen.
To me, it’s so romantic that we, too, have a natural habitat, and it’s one that’s ever-changing. We clearly like the comfort and safety of community, too, though, and to build community, we need to stay put.
I find this inherent desire to both leave and stay fascinating, and I wonder how it interacts with our experiences of meaning, happiness, and fulfillment.
I see how it plays out in the people around me. I know people who’ve lived all over the world and people who’ve spent their entire lives in one town, but I don’t know anyone who has never kept a home, nor do I know anyone who hasn’t traveled out of their town at least once.
I also see how it has played out in my life, too. I’ve lived in the greater Los Angeles area, rural Wisconsin, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Tokyo. My time in these places has been fairly evenly distributed—I spent the most time in Philadelphia (13 years) and the least in Tokyo (6 years, so far)—and no location has felt especially like home.
Moving has allowed me to shed my past humiliations, but my social capital didn’t follow me either. I extricated myself from bad relationships, but it kept me from maintaining my good ones, too.
I was free to reinvent myself, but I reinvented myself in my own image, anyway, because changing locations didn’t give me a new personality.
As we speak, my husband, Adam, is job hunting in Los Angeles (Not physically. Physically, he’s sitting across from me in a Tokyo cafe), so I’m anticipating another move soon, but for the first time, I’m moving to a place I’ve lived before.
Los Angeles is not just a place I’ve lived before, though. It’s where I was born and lived a good chunk of my childhood. I’m curious about how I’ll feel once I’m back there. Will it be completely new or feel like home? I suspect a little of both.
This past week, I’ve been thinking about where I’m going with The Intentional Hulk, and I want to explore some things more deeply than I can in one issue.
Going forward, I’ll produce a series on one topic until I run out of things to say about it. I imagine that they’ll be somewhere between 5-8 issues long. After a series ends, I’ll take a little breather (because we all need an occasional reprieve), like the seasons of a TV show.
Given that my time in Japan might be coming to an end, I think now is a good time to reflect on what it means to explore the world, but also what it means to go home.
My first series will be exploring whether travel and relocation adds meaning to our lives or if we’re better off staying home.
If this upcoming series interests you, please sign up (if you aren’t already). If you know someone who might enjoy it, please pass it along.