TDT’s Why We Travel: Reason #2

Reason #2: To escape.

The author Stephanie Elizondo Griest wrote in the opening lines of Around the Bloc about having nighmares of being “at a washed-up twenty-five, roaming Mary Carrol High’s halls in my letterman jacket and getting plastered in the Taco Bell parking lot for fun.” From that moment she knew she had to get the hell out – it was an impulse led her to a four-year journey through 12 nations, and to an entirely different life.

Having been raised in suburbia myself, I identified immediately with Griests fears (I shamefully remember reading her memoir while sitting outside a Starbucks across from the mall). Similar nightmares drove me out of the country for nearly a year; a sense of not wanting to settle brought me across the country, and it continues to stir my wanderlust.

Without condescension, I have to admit that I sort of shake my head when I see people I used to know who never made it out and never had the desire to – I feel so glad to have traveled beyond that place and time.

But escape in this sense is more than just physically traversing space. It’s about breaking out of your natural habitat and escaping a comfortable frame of mind. Traveling in a foreign country for an extended period of time can challenge everything you previously thought about yourself, your values or the world; it is this transformation that allows us true escape.

(Edited: 04/30/2007)

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