The other day, my cousin mentioned that her 4-year-old son seemed to have sprouted up overnight. “Mickey told me that he felt uncomfortable, and sure enough he was all scrunched up in his car seat! I swear, I had just adjusted its height last week.”
While travelling, I feel like I only grow in spurts. There’s no such thing as a “typical week,” and therefore there’s no controlled period of time against which to measure “normal growth.” I leap forward in a week, followed by a few days of sleep, followed by adventure and more new experiences. I change rapidly and dramatically.
And I notice this change whenever I return. Return to my hometown, to a previous travel site, and most recently to my alma mater. The previous places hold an image of a past me, memories suspended in animation. When I return, I am forced to put the present me into the past me’s shoes – shoes which I usually find to be too small.
My hometown is now my hometown, not my home. The city feels disconcertingly tight, like a too-small t-shirt. My alma mater is now populated by unknown students who are small and baby-faced.
I don’t belong in these places.
I used to. But all of a sudden, it’s time to move on. And I’m fine with that. I’m giving myself permission not to be tied to these places, which means that I can get on with exploring without judging myself for negligence. I’ve changed, that’s fine.
These places aren’t pulling me back anymore, just so long as I trust they’ll be there when I choose to visit.
Whenever that may be.