I read a post over at Early Retirement Extreme a few weeks ago, that asked what the appeal of travel was to people. The comments were as interesting as the original post.
I guess I just kind of took for granted that everyone liked to travel, but as I am constantly reminded, people are each different and enjoy (or don't enjoy) different things. Take retirement for example!
I just spent a week visiting San Francisco and had such a great time. I've lived there twice in my life, for eight years as a child, and then as an adult for 18, so more than half my life. But something about visiting for a week was so much different than actually living there.
Here's the deal, humans are complex, multi-faceted beings. You can't always be everything that you are at a given moment, because when you're always in the same environment, you tend toward operating the same as always. Maybe even taking some things for granted, or failing to notice beautiful things right in your own backyard (since you're focusing so hard on getting rid of those weeds.)
You know how when you are cooking and you add salt to something, it can actually bring out the sweetness of the dish? That's how I feel about visiting other places. You get to be you in a different place, and sometimes that brings out a slightly different you, one that you may not have been for awhile.
Because I was staying in North Beach, the neighborhood I grew up in, I was flooded with childhood memories. I thought of my mom a lot, and I love when that happens. She died nearly 30 years ago, so when I experience the memory of something I've long forgotten, it's a gift. So many of those memories are hiding beneath 30 years of more recent ones, it's not often one of them floats to the top.
On the way to our pied a terre, I drove my husband on the route I used to walk to catch the school bus to Treasure Island, up Montgomery Street, down Green Street, and along Grant Avenue. I walked the route, hand-in-hand, with my best friend Margarita every day. Doug and I were amazed that two six-year olds walked alone that far each morning. (That was of course, until my mom harassed city hall long enough to get the city to put in a stoplight down at Montgomery and Broadway so we could walk just two blocks to the other stop. I guess it just never occurred to our mothers to actually walk us down there to cross that busy street!)
The coin-op laundry mat on Grant where I spent hours coloring while Mom and I waited for the laundry was still there. There are still dozens of small shops in Chinatown selling fresh fish and produce, just like the ones she and I frequented, going from place to place for all the ingredients for dinner. And Doug and I walked up to Coit Tower just like my dad and I did so many times to let my mom have an hour of peace and quiet.
The sights, sounds, and smells of North Beach and Chinatown took me back to my childhood and let me be a kid again for a week.
Who will I get to be when I head off next to New York? I'm not sure what part of me that will uncover, but I look forward to finding out.