I move around a lot. Or at least, more than the average person does. But then, what is the average person? Anyway, I would like to claim that I move around a lot.
It takes me a few weeks to unpack when I arrive at a new location and a few more weeks to have my house, closet, food in order so I feel a sense of normalcy returning. I am a creature of habits and comfort. I like my house to have a certain feel, I like eating at certain times, I like to relax (a bit too much). Most of the time, I don’t think I’m cut out to travel. Leaving a place hurts me profoundly and I mourn it like a lost love. I always pack at the last minute. I start at least a week before I leave but always leave most of it to the very end- cramming another suitcase with the maybe items. I always have one suitcase— my handy ultra light Heys cabin sized one— filled to the brim with clothes and essentials I’ll need. And another one, this time, my other Heys (not so cabin sized) luggage filled with extras, presents and things I will probably leave behind and instead fill with treasures from wherever I am going. A few years ago, I was traveling every 2 months or so to go back to BC from Montreal or to Toronto from Montreal, or to Newfoundland from Montreal— always from Mtl. And the Mtl airport is awful with baggage line- ups so I started packing light and only having cabin luggage (mostly filled with my camera gear). But that is impossible when moving to a different country. Or is it?
I always stress out before I travel. I’m short with most people, I feel like being sick and I constantly assess and re- assess whether I’ve forgotten something. I think I’m a flustered traveler in general, and that feeling makes me even more flustered. Have you ever seen those people dressed to the nines, with little suitcases that don’t look overstuffed traveling? They make me feel so little and I must say I wish the jealousy could subside. I mean– how do you make a 26 hour journey look that good? Doesn’t make sense!
Then there is the issue of all the work left behind. I wonder if I’ll ever feel like I’ve finished everything when I go somewhere? Does anyone? My mind nowadays is racing with the reports I need to finish for school back in Newfoundland, the fact that I’m actually taking a course (in the middle of the night here) so I can remain on course to graduate, planning a wedding, trying to figure out my internship here. Its a constant shuffle of looking forward and backward and presently and meeting deadline after deadline– keeping me from enjoying (in my mind) what the Philippines has to offer. Traveling has pressures attached to it. Especially as a photographer— find a good story, What’s the story? Why am I here? What am I doing here? I don’t know is the right answer. Should I be comparing my experiences? Should I feel this weird feeling that I’m not in a “real” developing country because I have running water and electricity here? As compared to my experience in Rwanda which was a lot more rural, more grassroots somehow? How do I justify me being here when the work isn’t super “work- like” right now? Can I just say that I’m here to try it out? To test out the experience, that I’m still young and am trying to figure out where I want to live, how I want to make a difference? There is this pressure of being right here in the moment.
“Don’t worry about it Raï, just take it one day at a time”— I hear that way too often. The truth is, I’m not a one day at a time person. I plan like a maniac and moving around isn’t conducive to planning. I like order in my life but moving creates chaos and new possibilities. Its a good thing I’m not good at math or I’d probably have tried to run factorials on my possibilities. I try to breathe in the smoggy air and meet people and talk to them but the truth is, sometimes (often), I just long for normalcy and isn’t that the best thing about traveling in the end? When you can achieve normalcy in a variety of places? When life goes on despite living here or there? When the marvel of the “turquoise seas” or this tourist destination, or the people— they all fade into something characterized as normal? Shouldn’t that be the zenith of traveling or living in a new place? If you are constantly in marvel over every person you meet, or the cab ride you took, then aren’t you really always a tourist? Of course, this isn’t always the case and there are always stories and I always enjoy them. But, I also enjoy just going home after a long day of work and sleeping in, eating good food, going back home and watching tv. Moving around is fine and dandy but sometimes, I like to just be in stasis, living and breathing and just being.