Saturday, October 3, 2015

Transitions, They're a Real B!

A typical lyric from a shitload of current pop songs references some sort of journey which touches ground in LA, New York, Ibiza, London, Hong Kong, and/or Tokyo. With arguably some of the most popular night life being found in these areas, apparently this is a normal tourist trail for DJs, rappers, MCs, socialites, and whoever this person is (gross!). While I'm not sure of the depth of these people's travel budgets, or if they are purchasing a round-the-world ticket as opposed to going a-la-cart based on how hard they rage (poor bodies), but such a wide range of countries in one fell swoop sounds hectic. Maybe rappers don't sleep on airport floors or worry about cultural competency, but even so, a journey to this magnitude could cause a lot more strife than just jet leg. 

While the idea of visiting so many amazing destinations sounds great (and it is!), truth be told, it does come with its setbacks. Travel, be it long-term or hopping from one tourist sight to the next, can be disorienting. For me, each new place I visit, I tend to have a checklist of what I need to do to feel settled. Learning the local currency is a must. Finding out a few key phrases (hello, thank you, where's the bathroom, does this look infected?) also tops that list. Figuring out how to not be a disrespectful A-hole is positive, as well as finding a group of transitory besties to curb the loneliness. This song and dance, while part of the travel game, can be an exhausting measure for any road-weary tumbleweed. The transition from one place to the next is the part of travel I struggle with the most.

To be honest, though, the idea of travel transitions are both awe-inspiring and horrifying at the same time. There is something to be said about staying with a devout Muslim family, eating cous cous until your 1 am flight to Barcelona, only to wake up on the beach (where you slept as opposed to paying for a hostel) to western men and women swimming naked and making out in public. There is also some majesty in spending weeks on a pilgrim trail, walking with other soul-searching counterparts, only to end up in a hip hop club in Vienna, mere hours later, failing at explaining how Kanye West may not be the best ambassador of black culture to a disbelieving crowd of Europeans. It is an amazing feeling to have such differing experiences so close in proximity, yet it can be a trip in itself to wrap your head around all you've seen and felt. The truth is, though, that travel is not the only place where transitions occur.

Transitioning from one culture to another may be unique to vagabonds, but the idea of transitions aren't found solely in the wandering world. Being able to transition is a part of all walks of life. Be it a triathlete trying to better their time by shaving off a few seconds from the bike to the run, or a person trying to maintain a balance between their work and home life, transitions exist everywhere. Students graduating from college trying to cope with inevitable jump from school to "real life," feel the heat of a transition. People whom have differing groups of friends or seek a broad spectrum of thought know about transitions. Teachers whom gracefully teeter from a stern disciplinarian to a kind and loving roll model at the drop of the hat live and breath transitions. Yet, with as many transitions as we encounter in daily life, the ability to do it freely and gracefully is a skill that isn't so easily mastered. Many folks fail when trying to successfully navigate even the most common of transitions.
In my travel life, I can be whomever I want to be. One day I may be an introverted writer in an Spanish cafe that resembles Hooked on Colfax enough that I curb homesick tinges. The next, I could be the life of the party anywhere from Marrakech to Monaco. This is what I love about travel. Yet, the period between one existence to the next often comes with a hint of desire to hang up the old backpack. The days where I want to rest my hat on a more permanent post are few and far between, but most of the time they walk hand and hand with transitions. It's said we can't run from our demons. If we try to hide, they find us. If we try to swim, they hop in a boat. If we fly from one end of the earth to the next, they meet us in the middle, when we are the most vulnerable. The freewheeling life fits me, this is for certain. Truth be told, if my pack ever does become to heavy to bare, I have a hint it will be at the hands of one too many transitions to wrap my brain around.

No matter how many transitions we see, for some, the place that exists between finding comfort in one experience to the next is the most difficult place of all. 

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